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NEW: Major New 37-Storey Tower For MCR

Jonathan Schofield on the arrival of sky-tickling elegance

Written by . Published on March 5th 2015.


NEW: Major New 37-Storey Tower For MCR
 

ARCHITECTS 5plus have designs on the southern gateway to the city centre.

The new tower combined with Axis and Beetham Tower at the other end of Deansgate will create a whole new urban profile for the city centre. We're almost talking a 'cluster': one of architecture's favourite words.  

In November 2014 planning permission was secured for a 27-storey residential tower, Axis, on the north side of Rochdale Canal at the junction of Trafford Street and Albion Street. If you know Deansgate Locks that's the empty plot of land on the eastern end of this railway arcade of drinking sheds. 

Now, and with a much cleaner design, 5plus Architects have put together an excellent proposal thirty metres away across the canal, at 10-12 Whitworth Street West. This will be much taller and at 37 storeys the third highest tower in the city - just missing out by a single metre on second spot. It's height will be 117m (384ft).

For the record, Beetham Tower is 168m (552ft), the CIS Tower is 118m (387ft), City Tower is 107m (351ft) and Student Castle is 106m (347ft). 

The new tower combined with Axis at 93m (305ft) and Beetham Tower at the other end of Deansgate will create a whole new urban profile for the city centre. We're almost talking a 'cluster': one of architecture's favourite words. 

The beginnings of a cluster

The beginnings of a cluster

The strikingly simple International Modern profile of 5plus Architects tower will enhance this part of the city centre and also give passengers on the mainline to Liverpool and Scotland an architectural thrill - if that's their thing. 

The way the tower talks to the street seems satisfying with a generous raft of accessories incorporated down there including a bar, 'a party room', a library, a gym, a slide and a cracking staircase to take people around those lower and more public parts - there's a rooftop garden at the other end of the building as well.

These lower floors internally have a playfulness that belies the discipline of the external form. But as Jon Matthews, one of the architects involved says: "We want this to be an elegant and serious building but we want it to be more than that, we don't want to make it a one-liner, these spaces we hope will give the building extra soul." 

Reception

Reception

But it is with that sharp as a pin exterior that we get the magic.

Readers on Confidential have occasionally expressed a desire for Manchester to have skyscrapers such as The Gherkin or The Shard. To quote Mark Butterworth, who commented on this article about Highland House/North Tower, 'not the matchbox on end boring rectangle'. 

He has a point. But then, think of the problems that can happen with such buildings, think of the dreadful Great Northern Tower in Manchester, a total mess of silly weak details in a silly weak shade of grey. The Gherkin is famous because it takes a very simple form and sticks to it - as for The Shard the jury's still out.

Scale and height usually demand simplicity and a sincere use of materials too. With its coherent texturing, this tower might appear a 'matchbox on end' at first glance, but look more closely and it is anything but. The articulation in the elevations will make this very much more than a simple glass box. 

To this end 5plus Architects describe their building as 'Miesian' - after one of the fathers of the International Modern-style, Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of skyscraper forms. They mention Chicago a lot too. This is hubristic but you can see what they mean. 

Confidential would love to see this 37 storey tower built - it goes to planning on Wednesday 1 April. In terms of location it seems a winner already, certainly in terms of the strategic development of the city centre. 

There are 330 apartments for rent in the building, fill them and you have a ready audience for the cinemas, galleries and theatres of HOME, soon to open round the corner. It will mean getting a pint is harder in the Briton's Protection but maybe the City Road Inn can up its game and spread the burden. 

Meanwhile, the building scarcely impinges on exisiting residential developments. It lies to the north of aesthetically poor development Ropeworks but there's a railway line between the two. The Hacienda apartments are over the road, but a remove away, and that's about it. Aside from the yet to be built Axis tower. 

 10-12 Whitworth Street West is in the centre of this panoramic view

 

10-12 Whitworth Street West is just off centre-left of this panoramic view

Meanwhile the only demolition occurring is of a 100-year-old plus building, a former warehouse, the original architects of which would be surprised to find it still standing. 

Of course, if permission is granted, there will be alterations to the design, but we hope not too many because this is a good one. At Confidential we like towers, especially residential ones. Beetham at night with its apartments lit up looks very fine. More of the same would be grand as long as they are located in suitable places unlike Highland House (click here).

Let's keeping raising the city up.

PS The developer of the scheme is called Brigantes. Historians amongst readers will recognise this as the Ancient British tribe that occupied much of the North of England. Good to see them making a come-back in property. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

Sharp as a pin

Sharp as a pin

Whitworthstwest DiagramsWhitworth Street West, find a contained site, discipline it and then drop in a residential component

Reception opened upReception opened up


 


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63 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MichaelMarch 5th 2015.

Not bad.

Poster BoyMarch 5th 2015.

Good design, but it's out of context and out of place. And, if we are critiquing residential, the focus should be on the internal (and external) quality of the living space created, not making glib judgements based on the computer renders of this week's favourite architects. Pity anyone choosing to try and 'live' in Axis.

9 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMarch 5th 2015.

Poster Boy here must have been the equivalent of you saying the same thing in the late 1840s as the railway arches went in behind this project, "These modern steam transport systems are out of place and out of context." Cities morph, they change and God help them if they don't.

SquirrelitoMarch 5th 2015.

Out of context and out of place? Coming up Princess Parkway, this, Beetham and Axis, Cambridge St, and Student Castle will announce the city centre approaching with a nice "Bam!", Like how City Tower, Arndale Tower, the new builds around Greengate and even poor old North Tower do, coming down Bury New Road. Now there's a cluster, even if they're quite spread out in reality. Plenty of East Lancs accents go "Blimey!" on the X41 / X43 when they see that grouping.

GimboidMarch 5th 2015.

Where in Manchester would this be more 'in place', Poster Boy? Until Manchester has a greater number of buildings over 25 floors, anything taller is going to stick out a little. Doesn't mean they shouldn't get started.

Poster BoyMarch 8th 2015.

And you Mr Schofield, you carry on with your superficial, subjective comment. There is an obsession on ManCon with the need for tall buildings, as if more ‘skyscrapers’ is a badge of honour to announce the city’s arrival in a ‘Premier League’ of cities. It’s all nonsense. The obsession should be with excellent architecture, in context, place and if residential, living space which enhances the quality of life. Buildings are about more than looks. This is not a Luddite view. Those cities secure in their self confidence (especially those in Europe), do not constantly harp on the need for tall buildings, like some vain penis extension. If the blue badge guide from the lower moral ground thinks this is talking rubbish, so be it.

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

There are many reasons why tall buildings are useful. Land values in Manchester are going to increase greatly. Tall buildings are usually more energy efficient. And some people prefer not having the hassle of maintaining a house with garden.

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

* probably increase

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

Having said that it's always good to have a variety of scale as shorter and smaller buildings can have their own unique applications.

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

I agree with Poster Boy in the sense that there is too much focus on the exterior at the expense of what's inside. Beauty is more than skin deep and if these flats, like so much of modern housing are little more than hotel rooms with no storage, amenity space, are undersized and cost a fortune, then what's the point? Then we really are in the realm of building status symbols and investment opportunities rather than quality housing.

Captain Ned LuddMarch 8th 2015.

Hey Poster Boy got a job for you with our lot

rinkydinkMarch 5th 2015.

Looks great and will fit perfectly alongside Axis and Beetham Tower. There's also another tall tower currently being built a stone's throw away near First Street so it should all look impressive when finished

Burt CodeineMarch 5th 2015.

Aye, really like this one - the bronze detailing looks good. From what I've heard, it's being financed by a developer for eventual rent out (rather than relying on sales off plan). Possibly gives it more of a chance to get built.

SquirrelitoMarch 5th 2015.

I like it. Be good to see this rising along with Axis and the Cambridge twins, keeping old ma Beetham company

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

What is "Axis" and "Cambridge twins"?

SquirrelitoMarch 5th 2015.

Axis is another planned high rise across the street from this one (like it says in the article). The Cambridge "twins" are a pair of 21 - 29 story blocks under construction between this site and Oxford Rd station. So not twins at all, well not identical, more fraternal ;)

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

What are the internals like? If they are poky and poorly built there is no point in allowing this to go forward.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMarch 5th 2015.

Graphics added

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

Thanks but what about the actual living space?

Matt BradyMarch 5th 2015.

The view shown will never exist will it, as Axis will be in the way? Wasn't there a hotel planned for that spot 3 or 4 years ago - is this current plan anymore likely to see fruition? Hope so. Off subject slightly, anyone know what is going on on the Whitworth St / Princess St site that was abandoned in the crash but where there now appears to be some life?

7 Responses: Reply To This...
SquirrelitoMarch 5th 2015.

Urban & Civic have bought it. Planning flats & hotel to go on it.

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

What on earth is "Axis"?

GimboidMarch 5th 2015.

Anonymous, there's this thing you might find useful, called Google. It's really useful for finding out things you don't know about or don't understand. Here's how it works: lmgtfy.com/…

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Ah thanks Gimboid, tried that but it wasn't very useful www.lmgtfy.com/… so then I searched for "Gimboid" and had a bit more luck www.lmgtfy.com/… . So you see it's hit and miss. I guess I should just geek-up on my 'buildings that haven't been built but may get built at some point in the future or maybe not' skyscraper fanboy factoids, before asking such an obvious question in future.

GimboidMarch 5th 2015.

No need to 'geek up', just don't bother posting pointless questions when all the world's knowledge is at your fingertips.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Nah, thanks for the advice but in tonight's little exchange I've not only learnt what "Axis" means, but also discovered that neat little lmgtfy site and got a rise out of you! Beats Google...

SmittyMarch 6th 2015.

What on earth is "google"?

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Keep it up! The naysayers will always shout loudest

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

This is a really sleek design. A bit like a slim-line phone. I like it. This is a city on the up. To all the moaners (and there does seem to be quite a lot) I'll just say this (and only once): you should have seen the place a few decades ago - much of it worn-out, grey, bleak and derelict. Central station closed and used as a car-park. The Northern Quarter more or less abandoned overnight. The transformation is astonishing and will continue - for goodness sake just enjoy it!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Mark FullerMarch 5th 2015.

Well said anon. The construction of high quality , tall buildings like this one, can't come quickly enough, and hopefully more will follow: I'm luvin' it.

crisbyMarch 5th 2015.

Good point about the development of a 'cluster'. Manchester's skyline has never been planned, giving it a formless, chaotic appearance when viewed from most directions. The planned additions here are a definite step forward.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

This do not form part of a coherent plan either. Just one of a handful of cereal boxes that that happen to be close together. I agree that this design is fairly inoffensive though, just think it's a odd place for the building height to just leap up so dramatically. What will the experience be like on the ground? Will it really enhance the streetscape around here? What about downdrafts?

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

I love every day living here.....OK, London has a lot more but living here now, I care about what they build and that they invest!!!! MORE OF IT PLEASE!!

AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Not sure about the slide.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 5th 2015.

Also it looks a tad clunky. Needs more curves or ornamentation.

George EdwardsMarch 5th 2015.

Great stuff. Really hope it gets built. What happened to that River st tower not for from this? I take it's been mothballed?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

I wonder too what has happened to that tower?The site is a disgrace and gives a very poor impression of Manchester from the Manc way. If that gets built there will be four towers in close proximity,plus the Cambridge twins. Shame about the Student tower,that looks tacky. I hate the writing on the side. That makes it look cheap.

Ghostly TomMarch 5th 2015.

Have to say I like this one...

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

The Cambridge twins look like hotels in Benidorm. This however is pretty impressive. With Beetham and Axis it will give a sense of style to the Southern Gateway. The Metrolink will also weave between them which will be cool. I still love the one designed for NOMA that is amazing and will complement the CIS. As a city we are going places. With Devolution and the expansion of the Met we are only a cock stride away from being one of Europe's powerhouses. Very exciting times for Manchester/Salford and the boroughs. We need more of this.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Completely agree - although interest groups such as "Castlefield Residents" seem hellbent on thwarting any kind of development. Viva la Manchester!

David SmithMarch 6th 2015.

Castlefield residents are not hellbent on thwarting development at all. Granted they're keen to keep some of the limited green space around the area but are very keen to see the old cantina site between the congregational church and Castlegate developed. Unfortunately that site is owned by Reneker who are responsible for some of the dullest new builds in Manchester.

SmittyMarch 6th 2015.

It's nice. I think we're getting a good range of taller buildings which is applying a foundation to potentially give us a skyline that's a little more exciting. Think we need to get a few more big boxy buildings up to give some shape to the skyline, but it would be fantastic to get a couple of nice stand-out buildings that are a bit more unusual. We've got some interesting buildings, like Urbis and the Co-op, but it would be nice to see unusual ones with a bit more height. Hopefully seeing off the recession will help. What about those three buildings at Piccadilly? Seem to remember they were quite eye-catching.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Do you mean the Piccadilly Tower? - tinyurl.com/k5bl3qx…

SmittyMarch 6th 2015.

yeah, that's the one anon. I really liked the look of that. Weren't there plans for a little cluster there?

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

It was so slim. tinyurl.com/ms8d6oh…

SmittyMarch 6th 2015.

Actually that's the image I remember! Slim, yes, but very Sear's Tower!

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

At last.... a building that looks like it's been designed by someone with some skill and style. Simple shape, elegant proportions and then great attention to detail. I hope it gets built.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

I'm not sure. It's a bit.. no frills. I prefer the Axis tower.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Sod the Castlefield residents. You live in a city not the Cotswolds. A city with lofty ambitions. These people have far too much say on developments around there. Do you think the people of Collyhurst's views would be taken in to account if a skyscraper was thrown up on Rochdale road? Of course not. These Castlefield people need to shut up,or move to Clitheroe. I am sick of people like this always delaying progress. The same with those NIMBYS in the Chilterns whingeing about HS2. Lets face it,the train is cutting through a few average villages and hills that nobody would look twice at in the North or Scotland.Trouble is they don't know what real scenery is. It is hardly the Isle of Skye. Get it built and get it built now.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
MichaelMarch 6th 2015.

What does that have to do with this development??

JoanMarch 6th 2015.

Anon: It's not in Castlefield. Nobody from Castlefield has commented on here and even if they did comment negatively they're entitled to their opinion. The planning process is governed by legislation and includes a consultation element for all major applications, whether they're in Castlefield, Collyhurst, or the Isle of Sky. Of course you're entitled to your opinion too, but it's strange you're 'sick of people... always delaying progress' when in actual fact they're not.

JoanMarch 6th 2015.

BTW, I quite like ithe look of the building too.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Completely agree - "Castlefield Residents" wield a sinister and disproportionate amount of power when it comes to planning and the council. They "derailed" the Ordsall Curve project and added £££ onto the final cost. If these "residents" were urban peasants in Gorton, then their "valued opinions" would be pooh-poohed immediately.

MichaelMarch 6th 2015.

Altercation with a Castlefield Resident Anon?

Editorial CommentMarch 9th 2015.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Anonymous who has posted the original comment here is becoming a troll. Unless he calms down and stops being so aggressive and personal then all his future comments will be removed.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

This is very true and if HS2 was going through Wigan there would be no stalling of it's progress. These NIMBYS are pathetic and selfish.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Looks good. Shame the old building is going, its quite substantial and quite a nice building, would look good refurbed as a hotel or something. But good to see something old being replaced with better though. A refreshing change.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

i like the old building too.

Calum McGowanMarch 6th 2015.

Superb design for a very dull site. It will look mint when viewed from the train. Suddenly, this part of the city is springing back to life (from a Castlefield resident who is anything but NIMBY... I just want good stuff built and not any old crap).

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Yes from the train it will look amazing with Beetham and Axis too. After that people will see the stunning palace hotel and the terracotta gems on Whitworth street. It will give visitors a jawdropping vista.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Have the plans been revealed yet on what the development on Whitworthstreet/Princess street will look like?

AnonymousMarch 15th 2015.

No, its going out to public consultation first before designs are submitted

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