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Fire guts Hodder's future home - image

Hodder Associates' dreams of moving into Manchester's up-and-coming Northern Quarter went up in smoke last week (Monday 30 April) after a massive blaze gutted its future home.

The headline-grabbing fire in Dale Street almost destroyed the Grade II-listed, Palladian-style office building which the firm was refurbishing with a view to part-occupying.

Practice founder Stephen Hodder, who admitted he was considering taking two floors in the five-storey block, told the AJ he had been 'quite shocked' by the intensity of the inferno.

He said: 'I couldn't believe the aggressiveness of the blaze. The 150-year-old, solid-wood floors went up like a tinder box.'

As investigations into the cause of the fire continue - with the help of Greater Manchester's fire service dog Cracker - thoughts have already moved on to how to rebuild the site.

Although some quarters are calling for a full reinstatement of the facade, Hodder thinks that could be too easy a solution. He added: 'It might be more challenging and interesting to acknowledge the past but consider a more contemporary intervention.'

Meanwhile, regeneration expert Urbed, which is based in nearby Little Lever Street, has had to set up temporary home in Sustainability North West's offices after the firm's staff were forced to evacuate for safety reasons.

Andy Kelham, a spokesman for the practice, said: 'We are alive. The Urbed legacy lives on - we didn't go up in flames.

'We have come through our own Poseidon adventure, but hopefully we will be back home next week.'

The practice is still contactable on its usual phone line.

by Richard Waite

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