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Mass-production quality comes to Manchester

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Glenn Howells Architects has won £20,000 for designing a mass-production housing scheme in Manchester's Britannia Basin competition.

The designs will be used to build 85 flats (with the architects getting a fee) on a canalside site in the Castlefield district of the city. The flats will have precast concrete walls with floors spanning between them so there is no structural frame, said architect Bob Ghosh. 'It is a very fast-track construction, and will be clad in glass and timber,' he said. 'All the flats will overlook the canal or a courtyard or both.'

The flats will be housed in five blocks, linked by shared-circulation cores. Each flat will have one underground car-parking space, and there will be a cafe and a shop. Building work is to start immediately with the first phase due for completion early next year.

This is the only new-build housing for the site, said Urban Splash, which ran the competition with English Partnerships and riba. Urban Splash is working next door with its own designers on refurbishing warehouses into loft-type flats. A bridge will link one of them, Britannia Mills, with the Glen Howells new-build scheme, said Ghosh. Work on the other development, Box Works site, will take the number of flats on the site up to 300.

The Britannia Basin competition judges, chaired by Lord Rogers, chose the winner from a shortlist of six. Entries came from David Kirby Architects, Novo Architects, Arca, Fluid and Group from Rotterdam (aj 4.3.99). Each won £2000. There were 162 entries and nearly 450 registrations, making it one of the most successful competitions with riba involvement.

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