Due for completion in the second half of 2024, great progress is being made on the Island site in Manchester to deliver a 100,000 sqft office building for HBD and GMPF with Bowmer + Kirkland as the contractor. Island is designed to be modern and contemporary in appearance, but sympathetic to its context and local heritage.
Chosen for their robustness and ability to age gracefully, the material palette includes orange brickwork pointed with dark mortar and a black/brown patinated steel base. Assymmetry in the façades breaks up the ordered rhythm and mass, introducing different scales.
This adds layers of interest and intrigue, helping to create a more memorable façade and encouraging people to ‘look again’. The window reveals vary in depth as part of the building's passive environmental strategy, with opening windows concealed by a bespoke patterned laser cut panel.
As the project has a tight city centre site, it lends itself to the use of offsite construction and the facade is made up of pre-cast panels.
As part of the process, a full size visual mock-up (VMU) of one of the pre-cast panels has been temporarily constructed on site, enabling the design team, client and the planners to review the materials against the existing context.
The assymetry in the facade is achieved with a relatively small number of different modules due to repetition of certain elements. Modules are replicated every two floors and mirrored on the alternate floors, resulting in four floors that are the same and brick piers in just two sizes.
We have also worked closely with Techrete to develop the sawtooth brickwork at the head of the window, ensuring the optimum solution is reached in terms of weight, panel and brick depth whilst achieving the desired pattern.
The image on this page shows how the panels slot together. By overlapping them like this, the vertical joints in the window reveals are concealed so that they are not prominent within the facade. The visibility of horizontal joints is also minimised by aligning them with breaks in the brick course.
These panels will be craned into place with the windows already installed, before being fixed internally at the head and base.
As the quality assurance process happens within the factory and before the panels arrive on site, we can ensure the best possible finish and detailing. Seeing the mock-up panel at ground level and also from height (8 metres up in the air!) has also assisted us in agreeing the benchmark and QA process going forward. We are looking forward to the final panels being manufactured and installed on site!
More generally, work is progressing well on site with the ground works and basement all on track.
The VMU at Techrete's factory
The VMU panel on site