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OMI wins planning for huge Salford housing scheme

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Manchester-based OMI Architects has won planning for this 497-home scheme in Salford’s Exchange Greengate quarter

The scheme sits next to the River Irwell on a plot once earmarked for the high-rise Canopus Greengate scheme designed by Arca which collapsed after project backer BS Construction went into administration in 2008 owing £44.5million.

The new project features a group of buildings, ranging in height from 12 to 31 storeys, which will house three, two and one bedroom flats, townhouses and garden apartments all arranged around a communal courtyard.

Backed by Pinnacle Developments, the One Greengate development also includes 543m2 of commercial space, 248 basement car parking spaces and 200 ‘secure cycle spaces’ and eight motorcycle spaces.

Construction is set to start on site in January next year (2014).

The architect’s view

‘The plan layout of the development is generated by the existing street pattern and the desire to reinstate lost street frontage along Greengate, New Bridge Street and Gorton Street.

‘The river frontage is also reinforced by establishing a building line that is set back to accommodate a river walk and a generous landscaping zone. This set back also benefits the existing residents within the Sorting Office apartments opposite, giving them a separating distance of 44 metres.

‘The block facing the river responds to the bridgehead on New Bridge Street. This block terminates at its eastern end to open up the river to the courtyard.

‘At the junction of Greengate and Gorton Street the building is splayed to address the primary pedestrian route from Exchange Square and Manchester City Centre. Similar to the splayed corners of Barcelona’s Example District.  This serves to give this important ‘gateway’ a greater civic quality and also encourage future potential for movement along Gorton Street to wards the river. 

‘The buildings create a strong perimeter to the urban block. This in turn provides containment for a generous private landscape courtyard. The lift cores and entrances for all the apartment buildings are accessed from the courtyard. Secure entrances are provided at three locations on the corners of the block on Greengate/Gorton Street, Greengate/New Bridge Street and New Bridge Street/River Irwell. Provision has been made for a fourth and future point that would connect with the redeveloped Gorton Street car park.

Pedestrian circulation within the courtyard is a fundamental component

‘The pedestrian circulation within the courtyard is seen as a fundamental component that will animate the space and encourage a sense of community among the development’s residents.

‘Perimeter of the block is opened up at the west and east corners to enable shafts of afternoon sunlight to reach the riverside.

‘The majority of the commercial floor space has been placed along the prime route, Greengate. This also addresses the future Greengate Park.

‘The commercial floor space at the New Bridge Street/River Irwell corner exploits this important corner and acts as a gateway to the future river walk.

‘Blue/black engineering brick is used to the lower portions of the street facades to convey a robust base to the buildings.  This is a response to the adjacent Victoria Viaduct that also influenced the dark brick base of OMI’s nearby Spectrum scheme.  The dark brick conveys a civic quality appropriate to the city centre setting.  It also sets the development apart from the red brick and faience detailing of the retained Victorian buildings.  Thus marking a clear step-change to the areas industrial past.

‘The height of the taller buildings precludes the use of brickwork throughout.  This is seen as an opportunity to extend the pallet of materials and introduce layering to the composition.  The metallic finish cladding gradually emerges from the brick facades.  Glimpses of the cladding appear within the brick openings at the lower levels.  When the cladding becomes fully exposed it reads itself as an inner skin, extruded from the inside of the brick façade.

‘The lower sections of the building are expressed in load bearing masonry with ‘punched’ openings that have deep reveals.  The ration of solid to void is high and the aim is to convey solidity and permanence.  As the facades rise in height, a structural grid becomes increasingly apparent.  Eventually the entire façade becomes a grid pattern.  A balance between movement and visual interest is achieved to each façade.

‘The principle corners of the buildings are splayed in plan in order to create tall slim gables marking entrances into the courtyard.

‘The window openings are uniform and consistent module throughout.  The depth of the window reveals varies from full brick (200mm) setbacks within the solid areas of brick to a nominal 50mm within the cladding.

‘Balconies are provided in a variety of forms to both suit the dwelling type as well as achieve a balanced composition Juliet balconies within the brick facades are fronted by simple metal balustrading.  Clear toughened glass balustrades front Juliet balconies within the cladding.  Recessed balconies receive a clear glass balustrade set flush with the façade.  Projecting balconies are given the greatest expression using white dot-matrix patterning to the toughened glass to provide an opaque solid appearance when viewed from a distance whilst being virtually transparent at close quarters.  Thereby giving bold splashes of pure white to the façade whilst allowing residents to enjoy the views.

‘The metallic cladding is silver in colour.  The grid is a consist finish throughout.  The panels within the grid are set back approximately 50mm.  These are laid horizontally and have a subtle variation in their silver tones.  The aim is to reinforce the consistency of the grid while achieving a subtle patina within the panels.

‘Within the courtyard the use of brick and metallic cladding is repeated.  However, in order to provide a ‘softer’ less formal setting the blue/black engineering brick is replaced by a soft white/buff brick.  Glimpses of this interior finish subtly emerge from within the courtyard and interact with the blue/black brick.  On New Bridge Street the townhouses are set back from the main façade and here the white/buff brick is expressed in order to separate these special dwellings from the main street facades.’

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