Reinventing a Manchester icon to create a unique development: a hotel, bar, event space, offices and homes in a new city district.
Granada Television HQ, designed by Ralph Tubbs in 1962, is a Manchester icon – home to Coronation Street and The Beatles’ first ever televised performance. Following ITV’s move to MediaCity, Allied London purchased the channel’s former site and we were asked to redesign this building as part of new St John’s masterplan.
Being such a beloved local landmark, its redevelopment needed to reflect the building's cultural significance. The site is also at the gateway to St John’s, which will be a vibrant neighbourhood for culture, business and living – opening up a whole new part of the city for locals and visitors. As such, our design proposals needed to create exciting new facilities; mark this prominent location and provide a fitting tribute to the site’s illustrious past.
From the outset, we worked closely with Allied London, led by Mike Ingall, to test options for the site, checking that the eventual uses would fit in with the wider masterplan. It was essential that the prestigious Granada Television HQ building was retained, with the preference being to transform it into an event hotel. We had free rein to explore other uses for different elements of the site, from cinemas and swimming pools to theatres and music venues.
From the exterior, Granada Television HQ will look no different. As only one of five remaining Tubbs’ buildings, we were keen to respect its architectural significance. The iconic geometric façade will be retained with hotel rooms behind, many of which will have panoramic views across the city. A bar will sit atop the hotel, within a new, glowing glass box to replace the studio sign. The television studios themselves remain as they will create unique event and performance spaces.
A new building adjacent will provide new apartments, offices and retail units. The homes, either duplex or penthouse apartments, all have generous winter gardens or balconies as well as access to a private rooftop swimming pool and sun terrace. The commercial space here is complemented by modular units to the rear of the site, which offer further workspace for small, start-up companies. Throughout, our priority was to capture the magic of the original Granada Studio site to create somewhere that people would be drawn to visit.
Historically the Old Granada Studios buildings have expanded in an ad hoc manner, with each addition functional and pragmatic in its aesthetic and clearly readable on the façade. Our intention is to follow this approach and allow the new additions to read as such and express their own architectural identity.
Old Granada Studios is the first part of the St John’s puzzle. As well as providing a truly unique hotel and hospitality spaces, it will mark a new destination for Manchester – one that will transform this part of the city.