The jewel in Manchesters' Spinningfields’ crown – a striking office building delivered on a shoestring budget.
No.1 Hardman Street sits within the Spinningfields development in Manchester – a vast regeneration scheme that has transformed a whole area of the city. This, the final plot to come forward, was a small, restricted but prominent infill site, surrounded by modern glass office blocks.
We were first approached by Allied London, with whom we had just completed the iconic Brunswick Centre regeneration, to enter an invited competition to develop the site. Led by Mike Ingall, their vision was to build innovative office space that was eye-catching and full of character, unlike its corporate neighbours, to attract Manchester’s burgeoning creative businesses.
Unusually, on this project we were able to work with the building’s operator as well as the developer. Mediacom came on board quite early in the process – having struggled to find existing office space in the city, they were excited by the prospect of having their name above the door of a brand new development. Signing up so early meant they were very involved in the design process, working alongside Allied London and ourselves to transform this blank canvas into their own attractive and functional working environment, tailored specifically to their needs.
However, not long after planning permission had been granted, the recession hit and all work on the project stopped. Once the economy picked up again in 2012, like many other projects at that time, the focus was to get the building finished as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Being flanked on all sides by glass office buildings, we wanted to take a different approach to No.1 Hardman Street. To this end, we developed a structure with a very simple, cost-effective frame and a more elaborate skin to sit over the top. This skin takes the form of a powder-coated aluminium screen, with laser cut circular openings, which wraps around the building from first to fourth floor, contrasting with the simple solid black panels sitting behind it. Illuminations are also projected onto the perforated screen, creating more interest at street level.
At five storeys, the building provides 1,500m2 office space with a double height main entrance foyer and rooftop terrace. Inside, the exposed steel structure, services and concrete soffits create a raw, industrial aesthetic, in contrast to the interiors of the nearby slick, glazed offices.
Flexibility was a key consideration throughout – from signing up to moving in, Mediacom grew significantly in size. As well as adjustable working areas, the two ground floor meeting rooms can be opened up to create a large space for presentations, conferences and events, meaning the building doubles as a venue for Manchester's media sector.
From start to finish, No.1 Hardman Street took only 18 months to complete. Since moving in in 2014, Mediacom have noticed that being in a more stimulating, creative environment has increased staff morale, the quality of their work and helped to win over new recruits, too.