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Murrays’ Mills

by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Client Manchester Life Development Company Limited

Awards RIBA North West Award 2021

© Daniel Hopkinson

Located in the heart of Manchester’s Ancoats district, the conversion and conservation of Murrays’ Mills plays a significant role in the area’s regeneration. This exceptional group of historic buildings, a key part of the district’s identity, has been safeguarded for the future in a scheme that demonstrates a highly thoughtful and considered approach to the adaptation and reuse of historic buildings.

The project creates a new residential community within three historic mill buildings and the new “Wing Mill,” which replaces an earlier building destroyed by fire, and is focused around a central landscaped courtyard. It displays considerable intelligence and ingenuity in response to the complex challenges and varied conditions and layouts of the historic structures and is closely informed by their qualities and heritage.

A particular success of the scheme is the carefully considered organisation of the apartments with the majority, despite the constraints of the existing buildings, having dual aspects. Duplex apartments at ground level are designed to maximise the number of entrances from the courtyard, animating this important space, and this communal focus to the scheme is further enhanced through the orientation of living spaces towards the courtyard. The variety of the existing structures is evident in the character and layout of the apartments, many of which benefit from large open plan living areas determined by the structure and features of the historic buildings.

New interventions, such as the strongly articulated steel linings to new entrances, are clearly expressed and differentiated from the historic buildings. The new “Wing Mill” is an elegant addition that reinterprets the brick and steel of the existing buildings as a delicate framework and acts as a foil to the solidity of the older structures. Across the scheme, new and old are united by the careful attention given to a limited palette of robust materials which responds to the rich history and language of the site’s industrial heritage.

A well considered sustainability strategy has built on the inherent sustainability of repurposing existing buildings, successfully retaining a significant amount of the historic fabric and exploiting the embodied carbon of the structures while sensitively upgrading and improving the performance of the fabric. A delicate balance has been struck between retention of historic features and the introduction of new elements, displaying a thorough understanding of the environmental performance of historic materials and building structures. New works use complementary materials and have been designed for future longevity, utilising robust, carefully sourced materials.

The remarkable success in enhancing the performance of the historic buildings, together with the high environmental performance of the new buildings, has been demonstrated through in-use data, illustrating the sophisticated understanding that the design team has brought to the challenges of a scheme which is in many ways exemplary for its sustainable reuse of the listed mill buildings so characteristic of the region.

Location: Manchester

Contractor: Graham Construction

Structural Engineers: Arup

Environmental / M&E Engineers: Arup

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: MAC Consulting

Project Management: MACE

Acoustic Engineers: Arup

Landscape Architects: Planit

Heritage Architect: KMHeritage

Planning Consultant: Deloitte

Internal area: 14,344 m²

© Daniel Hopkinson
© Daniel Hopkinson
© Daniel Hopkinson
© Daniel Hopkinson
© Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
© Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
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