SEW Albert Bridge House Aerial

Albert Bridge House

2021 - present

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Studio Egret West have designed an ambitious scheme that will help to transform the Albert Bridge House site in central Manchester.
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Studio Egret West have designed an ambitious scheme that will help to transform the Albert Bridge House site in central Manchester.

Location:
Manchester, UK
Client:
Oval Real Estate
Role:
Principal Designer, Architect, Landscape Architect
Status:
Planning Submitted

Strategy

The site is currently dominated by surface level car parking and is impermeable to public access. The proposals for Albert Bridge House will deliver much needed housing along with a large-scale office to bolster the City of Manchester’s already thriving economy and street scene, while meeting Manchester’s ambitions towards becoming a prosperous, net zero carbon and climate resilient city.

SEW Albert Bridge House Public Realm
Albert Bridge House Public Realm

The design takes three disparate spaces (the existing Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street Car Park and Albert Bridge Gardens) and consolidates these into a new accessible public realm, framed by shops, cafés and restaurants at the base of a large-scale office building and residential tower. The new public realm will provide a revitalised ecological corridor along the River Irwell as part of a landscape strategy that retains planting and trees, augments with new planting, and hardscape areas to create a welcoming new public place for the people of Manchester to enjoy.

The site benefits from its city-centre location and the existing infrastructure which makes the area a strategic transport location. Albert Bridge House is walking distance from Manchester Victoria Station and Salford Central Station — and being situated next to River Irwell, it offers great views across the city. As a city-centre site, its complex surroundings needed to be carefully taken into account for a successful design proposal.

Specificity

The residential building provides a 45-storey tower with 367 build-to-rent homes alongside communal amenity spaces. The commercial building will deliver 43,460sqm of office space; 2,172sqm of accessible external amenities & 2,190sqm of ground-level activation.

The residential building is the tallest of the development and occupies a prominent position at the western corner of the site — at the gateway between Manchester and Salford, providing a favourable setting for a landmark building. The building form is composed of 3 hexagons linked in the centre by the core, where the circulation and buildings services run vertically.

The building's massing has been carefully articulated in a faceted form, which creates slenderness from key viewpoints along Bridge Street. The height of the four volumes stagger sensitively downwards to create a layered-height approach for the views from the Lowry. Intermittent double-height communal spaces carve into the building and break up its volume, creating a sense rhythm and proportion to the human scale. Additionally, the facets formed by the hexagon arrangement help to dissipate the wind, reducing the impacts of downwash to improve the microclimate within the public realm.

All the homes have living rooms arranged in the corners, which have full-height glazing on both sides. Generous area provisions in these corners provide the space for private winter gardens.

SEW Albert Bridge House CF Square
Albert Bridge House view from Clermont-Ferrand Square
SEW Albert Bridge House Interior hr 25 10 2
Albert Bridge House Interior

From key ground-level viewpoints, the profile of the tower presents a slender appearance, limiting the visual impact of the tower and allowing sunlight to reach the lower spaces.

Amenities within the building include a lounge within the lobby, and a café which spills out to the public realm. A cycle workshop provides the facilities to fix and maintain bikes, encouraging healthy lifestyles. A double-height bouldering wall, a resident’s gym, shared dining facilities, and a cinema room have been proposed.

SEW Albert Bridge Rev A Green

The appearance of the residential building has been carefully considered to take into account the context, the local architecture, the scale, and type of the building. The facade takes inspiration from the red brick of the Manchester vernacular, and evokes a warmth that complements the colour palette of the surrounding buildings. The elevation is composed of a clear visual framework, with pronounced horizontal banding and vertical glazed corners. The banding rhythm gradually increases in height, playing with optical perspectives that soften the height of the building.

To bring a contemporary edge, dynamism is added to main framework with shuffling windows and varying panel colours. The warmer rusty-red tones of the lower levels progressively become lighter as they blend upwards with the sky. Complementing green accents are used for the core cladding, to create a relationship with the neighbouring context. The base facade was designed to feel light, open and welcoming, with the use of channel glass with varying degrees of opacity.

The public-realm of Albert Bridge House has been designed to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable environment for residents, office workers and the wider public. The transformation of the site, which is currently dominated by car parking, will turn it into into a series of generous public spaces that will benefit people, urban wildlife and ecology.

SEW Albert Bridge House Eye Level View St Marys Parsonage
Albert Bridge House view from St Mary's Parsonage
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Albert Bridge House Passage

Sustainability

The Albert Bridge House design sets ambitious targets to achieving net-zero targets across its whole life cycle, alongside promoting sustainable transport systems. The design seeks to provide a ‘best in class’, future-proofed scheme to meet the aspirations of Greater Manchester’s target to be net-zero by 2038, as well as Oval Real Estate’s own Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives.

The mixed-use development is expected to contribute to sustainability in a broader sense through the provision of: a high-density, well connected city-centre development; minimal on-site parking and high-quality cycle facilities; high-quality accessible public realm and landscaping; improvements to local biodiversity; the retention of existing trees and planting; and the integration of sustainable urban drainage (SuDS) to mitigate flood risk.

The design seeks to optimise biodiversity to complement the building and public-realm proposals, to ensure that the landscape and architectural proposals exist in concert within the design. The proposals retains and augments existing landscape features, including existing trees and key ecological habitats.

SEW Albert Bridge House Aerial
Albert Bridge House Aerial
Team