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Simpson's £25 million tower nears completion

NEWS

Ian Simpson has topped out his £25 million No.1 Deansgate residential tower building on a site in Manchester bombed by the IRA in 1996 - and likes it so much, he has bought two flats himself.

The 47m-tall sloping building for Crosby Homes in the centre of Manchester was topped out by Manchester City Council chief executive Howard Bernstein last week.Aimed at the wealthy, the vast majority of flats on offer - 64 of a total of 84 flats - have already been bought off plan, some by Manchester United footballers. Prices are the most expensive in the city, starting at £160,000 for a onebedroom flat to £1.5 million for a Triplex penthouse.

The building, set for full completion in March, features a double glass and steel skin with a transfer structure which distributes the weight of the building down through 7m-high steel trusses.

The tower sits on a podium and contains the apartments and penthouses over 14 floors.Below that, said Simpson, will be the paved piazza at the 'sky lobby'or mezzanine level, and this is where the concierge for the building and five lifts to service the upper floors will be located - five to reduce the number of corridors in the building. The threestorey lobby space will also be a dedicated communal zone for the residents featuring an outdoor terrace for functions.Retail will be below at ground level, with parking below that.

Each flat has a 'buffer zone'or terrace between the outer skin and the inner.A series of louvres for climate control on the exterior skin of the building close automatically when moisture detectors feel the Manchester rain. Residents can also close and open them at the touch of a button, while blinds line the exterior of the inner glazing.The principle as a whole will add 'life'and animation to the building's outer skin, said Simpson, and the scheme could even act as a giant barometer for locals.

Simpson has bought two flats on level 18, just below the penthouse floor and intends knocking them into one. Other buyers have included a single family taking a series of flats for individual members.

The scheme is adjacent to the forthcoming Shambles West Development, where Harvey Nichols is due to open, along with a BDP-designed M&S and a Selfridges store.

No.1 Deansgate is also close to Urbis, another major Manchester project and another sloping building, again from Ian Simpson Architects, opening in May. That £28 million scheme is a celebration of cities in a six-storey museum above Exchange Square. 'This is a Porsche, but Urbis is a hand-made Ferrari, 'said Simpson.

No.1 Deansgate came about through a joint venture between Crosby Homes and Manchester City Council, and Crosby is behind further highprofile projects in the city. It is working with AMEC - as the Ician joint venture - on the northern quarter development where Stephenson/Bell is designing a residential scheme using part of an old market building.Crosby is also using Stephenson/Bell at the Beaumont Buildings on another residential scheme.The £6 million project is a refurbishment, currently under construction, of an old Rolls-Royce showroom and a 19th-century warehouse.

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