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History of Manchester Architecture – Part 3

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Beetham Tower, 301 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ

The Beetham Tower is one of the most notable buildings in Manchester. The skyscraper held the title as the city’s tallest building up until 2018. This iconic building is likely to be one of the first structures you notice as you journey into the city. With 47 storeys the building can be seen from ten English counties on a clear day.

The building is split between a hotel and residential units. Residential units contain 219 flats and 16 penthouse suites. A 4-metre cantilever marks the transition between the two. The penthouse offers view across Greater Manchester, the Cheshire Plain, the Pennines and Snowdonia.

The Beetham tower was designed by architect Ian Simpson of the Beetham Organisation and has received several awards for its innovation design. The design incorporates a unique elongated floor plan with a height to width ration of 10:1, making it one of the thinnest skyscrapers in the world. The tower is known to emit a loud unintential hum, or howl in windy weather. This is believed to emanate from the glass blade at the top of the building. The sound can be heard locally over the city and has been recorded as a B below middle C.

The building was apart of Manchester’s re generation scheme in 2003. The Beetham organisation summited a planning application to Manchester City Council on July 2003 and approval was granted in October 2003, this was with the support of the English Heritage and recommendations from the planning department. Once planning had been approved and before construction had even started, 203 of its 219 flats had already been pre sold. Initial construction work started for the foundations started at the beginning of 2004. . By August 2004, work on its twin concrete cores had started and the structure was rising at a steady rate. One of the cores reached 120 metres at the end of July 2005, at which point the building became the tallest skyscraper in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower was “topped out” on 26 April 2006. Local wind conditions dictated its height had to be reduced by 2.0 metres from the planned 171 metres.

The tower was the first in the UK to use the Doka SKE 100 automatic climbing system and trapezoidal windshield and was built by Carillion using post-tensioned flat slab concrete construction techniques. Typically piling foundations would be used for skyscrapers, however, Manchester’s sandstone substrata meant a raft foundation. The 2.5m thick raft foundation sits nine metres below the ground level. Approximately 57,000 tonnes of concrete and 6,000 glass panes for the curtain-wall structure were required. Over 8,000m2 of rigid insulation board by Kingspan was used to reduce heat loss.

The curtain-wall structure is clad in glass, and elements were added to counter excessive light. Louvres on south-facing windows allow for the control of daylight and sunlight into its interior. On the west- and east-facing sides, aluminium strips which are noticeable from ground level project outwards to provide shading from the sun. The louvres on the south façade alter its consistency and appearance when some are open, and others are closed. They stop excessive passive solar gainUltraviolet light hits the glass and is changed to infrared which generates heat through radiation, creating overheating.

Beetham Tower
Beetham Tower

Deansgate Square, Owen St, Manchester M15 4RT

Formally known as Owen Street, the Deansgate Square is a skyscraper cluster development nearing completion. The site on the southern edge of Manchester’s City Centre consists of four skyscarpers.

The 2007 scheme consist of containing nearly 1,100 residential units, 100 serviced apartments, a hotel, parking, office and retail space, and community facilities. The tallest skyscraper planned was “Block D”, which would have consisted of 49 storeys — two storeys more than Manchester’s tallest building, Beetham Tower — and 150 metres (492 ft) high.

In 2007 a planning application was submitted to Manchester City Council and was approved early 2008. Permission to extend the time limit for building on the site was sought from the Council in early 2011, a request which was granted in September 2011.

The revised scheme, proposed by developers Renaker Build and designed by SimpsonHaugh and Partners, was made public in January 2016 with a planning application to seek permission for the construction of four skyscrapers submitted in April.

The proposed towers range from 122 to 200+ metres high – the South Tower is 64 floors and 200.5 metres tall, the East Tower is 50 floors and 157.9 metres tall, the North Tower is 37 floors and 122 metres tall and the West Tower is 44 floors and 140.4 metres tall.  The scheme was approved by Manchester City Council on 30 June 2016.

Construction first began in July 2016 on the South and West Towers. By November that year piling works was complete with tower cranes erected soon after. As construction carried on and the towers continued to rise, in October 2017 construction on the foundation and podium for the North and East Towers commenced. By July 2018, the West Tower “topped out” having reached the 45th floor – its highest floor level. By November 2018, the South Tower – the tallest tower of the approved scheme at 201 metres – had “topped out” having reached the 65th floor, its highest floor level.

Institutional investor Legal & General acquired the 140 metre West Tower in August 2018, with the intention to rent the tower out once complete. It is estimated the real estate value was believed to be in the region of £200 million according to Estates Gazette. As of February 2020, the West Tower is complete and occupied, the South and East Towers are complete and soon to be occupied, and the North Tower has topped out and is substantially complete.

Deansgate Square
Deansgate Square

Alan Turing Building, Manchester M13 9PY

The Alan Turing Building is located at Manchester University, in Manchester, England. The building is named after the founder of Computer Science, and the great mathematician, Alan Turing. It consists of the Photon Science Institute, the School of Mathematics, and the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, which also belongs to the school of Astronomy and Physics.  The building can be found in Manchester’s district of Chorlton-on-Medlock, on Upper Brook Street, which is next to the Henry Royce Institute and University Place. The project was called the AMPPS, which stands for Astronomy, Mathematics, Physics, and Photon Science when under construction.  The Alan Turing Building was nominated for the Greater Manchester Building of the Year 2008 prize, which is acclaimed by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. In the Chartered Institute of Building “Construction Manager of the Year” awards, the project manager won the silver medal. 

This building was completed by the end of July 2007 and was worth £43m. The building was designed by Sheppard Robson, the architects. The building includes three “fingers”, each “finger” is four stories high.  The building is made up of steel frame, covered with grey zinc exteriors. The two fingers pointing the north are connected with an atrium, extended over bridges. The finger positioned at the south was created to carry low vibration laboratories, connected by a bridge that is on the third floor joining with the middle finger. 

The over-sailing structure of the roof joins the three fingers that serve as a suspension system for the solar shading or photovoltaic array with the help of thin-film technology. This solar shading or photovoltaic array aims to generate around 41-megawatt hours per year, saving 17000 kg of carbon dioxide every year.  This was known as the biggest photovoltaic array located in North West England during its completion, and due to this, architects were able to win a prize for “Business Commitment to the Environment” 

The project was approved on one condition. The condition was that the project must include corridors for visual transparency and everyday access that connected the Oxford Road and Upper Brook Street. This was done to respond to the complaints made by Brunswick’s residents that lived on the Upper side of Brook Street. The residents complained that the university developments acted as a barrier to them. These demands were met by the walkaway between the third and the second finger, and the see-through atrium. This goes in line with the former street when the site once used to be a residential area. When it is opened again, the site will run through the Upper Brook Street to Oxford Road and will be known as “Wilton Street” as it was once called. 

Several mathematics departments were made part of the high rise buildings, such as the Maths and Social Sciences Building at UMIST and the Victoria University’s Mathematics Tower. These however, were not suitable for the activities undertaken at the mathematics department or any other academic department, as commuting between the floors reduced interaction among mathematicians which was resulting from a chance encounter. Buildings, for instance, Isaac Newton Institute at Cambridge and the Mathematics Institute at Warwick (at East Site, later known as the Zeeman Building are designed to encourage chance encounters, known as low-rise buildings.  The Alan Turing Building was designed after taking an in-depth input from the mathematicians. The building design is a reflection of a large common room made on the atrium bridge, walkways and open corridors, and the repositioning of traditional blackboards that can be also found in the old buildings. 

The Photon Science Institute covers the southern finger, and the two northern fingers covering Mathematics on the three floors along with the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics on the third and fourth floors. The atrium on the ground floor has reserved space for public space, which includes a small café. This café is known as the Pi in the sky. 

The atrium on the ground floor is surrounded by the undergraduate common room that is only for mathematics.  It is also a lecture room for computers and undergraduate students.  The first two floors of the first and the second finger are the offices made of academic staff and the postgraduate students that are pursuing their degrees in Mathematics, along with the Manchester Institute for Mathematical Science (MIMS) conference areas. There is a seminar room which is named after Frank Adams, the famous Topologist, whereas, the library is named in remembrance of the famous algebraist, Brian Hartley. All the lecture theatres are named Richardson, Mordell, Lighthill, and Max Newman. The meeting room is called Horace Lamb, whereas the room for Access Grid is named after Sydney Goldstein. Also, the bridge passing through the atrium leads its way to the common room which is used by the graduate students and mathematics academics. The coffee is also served here. 

On the third floor houses of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, research activities for astrophysics and astronomy are conducted, along with the transfer of students and staff from Jodrell Bank Observatory.  Furthermore, the observatory now belongs to the JBCA, and offers top facilities which include Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network and Lovell Telescope. As compared to the other floors, this floor has a different design. This room has windows towards the atrium and glass walls onto the central corridors.  Every wing holds the glass-walled walkways through the atrium. Furthermore, the seminar room for astrophysics Is named in remembrance of Sir Bernard Lovell, who has founded the Jodrell Bank Observatory. There are several labs made on the fourth floor, clean room, and RFI screened room. These are for the astrophysics instrumentation construction, for instance, the Planck spacecraft and Lovell Telescope.  

In January 2004, Square Kilometre Array, which was the project design office, was shifted to Manchester, so that it could be hosted by the JBCA, to construct the next-generation radio telescope.  Furthermore, the laboratories in the Photon Science Institute are protected from electromagnetic radiation and vibration resistance. It consists of instruments such as spectroscopic photon echo measurement kit and broadband sum-frequency spectrometer. There is a bridge situated on the third floor. This bridge links Astrophysics with the Photon Science Institute while maintaining the resistance of finger against the mechanical vibration.

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