Hathersage Road,
Manchester

Client

MCR Property Ltd.

The existing 1.57 hectare site fronts onto Hathersage Road between the existing Grade II* listed Victoria Baths immediately to the east, and a monolithic United Utilities office building immediately to the west. Six new residential blocks are carefully set out across the site, with 19m courtyard spaces in between, creating a steady rhythm of built form across the site that continues the rigour established by the traditional terraced street pattern and the ‘grain’ of the Baths. The courtyards are defined by paths, trees and a ‘rippling’ articulation of the ground plane. The blocks are between 3 and 6 storeys high, varying to respect cornice heights of adjacent properties. Blocks are arranged with apartments to either side of a central spine corridor, entered off a generous atrium incorporating vertical circulation.

Powerful window openings provide the apartments with generous day-lighting and a feeling of expansiveness. The strongly perforated brick walls become skeleton-like structures, and imbue the apartment buildings with a pragmatic, urban character in contrast to the ‘decorated’, public aspect of Victoria Baths.

The palette of materials is consistent with the unpretentious, understated expression of the architectural language: white-grey brick (resonating with the impressive interiors of Victoria Baths) lines the buildings’ structures forming an objective, rational lattice within which sit deeply recessed flush timber and glass planes. The arrangement of the glazing relates directly to the internal apartment layouts, with windows proportionally sized to the rooms they serve. This accounts for subtle differences in each structural bay-opening which allows the elevations to be ‘read’ in a logical manner.

The robust calm of the architectural expression captures the spirit of the proposed place beautifully.