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New architects sought for Manchester's £800m Airport City

Argent has promised a series of contests and charettes to find architects design the £800 million Airport City next to Manchester Airport.

On Sunday (13 October) Manchester Airports Group (MAG) announced a joint venture agreement with Chinese big hitters Beijing Construction Engineering Group, working alongside Carillion and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, to deliver the business park scheme which already has an outline planning consent.

Development manager Argent LLP has pledged to look for new faces to work on the ‘70 new buildings’ within the masterplan drawn up by 5Plus Architects.

David Partridge, managing partner of Argent, said: ‘There has not been much design on a building by building basis. To handle the immediate market activity we may use the existing design team or have mini-design contests.

He added: ‘However for the longer-term, as we did at Kings Cross and in Birmingham, we’ll begin with putting some charettes together. This will help us get some more general ideas - as well as some new names in the frame, from both Manchester and elsewhere.

‘Then, when the next big project comes up, we will have some fresh people to choose from.’

Partridge said the charettes would begin next year, working with Manchester and London-based 5Plus to ‘test a number of practices’.

He added: ‘The trick is to commission architects who can create interesting and diverse buildings which also fit within the overall vision.

‘While cost is always an issue, design quality will be crucial to create that downtown, city centre feel we are after.’

The 464,000m² development, which has secured Enterprise Zone status, is understood to be the first major development outside of London to have landed substantial Chinese investment.

Previous story (CN 11.12.12)

£650m ‘Airport City’ plans submitted for Manchester

Manchester Airport’s parent firm MAG has submitted plans for a £650m 65-acre mixed-use commercial development north of the airport in a bid to attract international businesses and create 11,400 jobs.

MAG plans to build 1.2m sq ft of offices, 62,000 sq ft of retail space, 530,000 sq ft facilities for advanced manufacturing uses and space for 1,300 hotel beds.

Airport City is expected to create a total of about 5m sq ft of new business space over the next 10-15 years, including this development.

The proposed scheme is set to include a 13-acre central park area, multi-storey car parking spaces and cycle spaces and a landscaped ‘green bridge’ over the M56 spur road to provide predestrian access.

MAG hopes that Airport City will become a catalyst for the regeneration of the local Wythenshawe area, and has started education and training programmes to harness local labour and supply chains. Construction jobs would be in addition to the 11,400 roles created after completion of the scheme.

Airport City Manchester is central to the government-designated Enterprise Zone surrounding the airport. MAG wants it to compete with similar developments in Europe such as at Munich, Barcelona and Amsterdam by building a complex that is “attractive to multi-national companies that require business space in a location that gives them highly accessible to a both major city and the global marketplace”.

MAG’s Airport City director, John Atkins, said: “We have been working on this project for six years, examining airport cities across the world and how Manchester can successfully apply the concept.

“The planning submission demonstrates the progress we have made in the past 12 months and is a major step forward towards starting work on site.

“The aim is to create a modern business destination that makes full use of infrastructure already in place and the majority of workers and visitors will not drive to Airport City – instead they will walk, cycle, take a tram, bus, train or a plane.”

The intended site is currently a mix of scrubland and temporary airport car parking and is bordered by the M56 spur road and Woodhouse Park area of Wythenshawe.

AECOM and Davis Langdon are advising on the intended scheme’s transportation, energy, utilities, sustainability and cost consultancy. Manchester-based 5plus Architects worked on the scheme’s plans along with Drivers Jonas Deloitte and Jones Lang LaSalle, Urban Strategies Inc.

Altrincham-based Planit is designing landscape and public realm areas and global property advisor CBRE is assisting MAG in the procurement of a delivery partner for the project.

Last month MAG received outline planning approval for the £100 million World Logistics Hub development, adjacent to junction six of the M56 and the existing airport freight area. The scheme is expected to provide 1.4m sq ft of logistics space and 36.6 acres of new landscaping and natural habitats and lead to the creation of 1,800 jobs.

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