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Manchester Charrette: Ben Adams Architects

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Ben Adams Architect’s proposals for a new Airport City outside Manchester: FAC 52

Ben Adams Architects

Ben Adams and Michael Wilson Katsibas

Ben Adams Architects was founded in 2010 and has a proven track record of high-quality buildings that support our clients’ ambitions. Each project is the result of bespoke thinking rather than formulaic solutions. Our successful approach combines rational skill with irrational creativity for buildings that both inspire and delight.



Design approach

Our building helps to reinvent the business park by proposing a large grain building with a complex programme. Based on the warehouses of central Manchester, Fac 52 connects four office buildings to a mixed-used core. The offices are 15m wide with simple rectangular floors. Each has views out to Airport City, and views ‘in’ to an inhabited park filled with shops, restaurants and civic spaces. The building is characterful and complex, defined by a confident external shell and more intimate spaces in the centre.

Ben Adams Architects

We began by testing the density of the masterplan against established city grids from Manchester, London and elsewhere. Our analysis revealed that the site could accept additional density while enhancing the proposed buildings and improving the masterplan. The increased density of our proposals allow for additional office space to be created and for other uses to co-exist, while improving the richness and character of the overall estate.

The office spaces can accommodate a complete range of tenants, be they a small start-up or big business. Offices can be individually tailored to provide raw, open-plan spaces for the creative industries or streamlined Grade-A space for multinationals.

Crit notes

Michel Mossessian
If you look at nature, you get culture. I like the hybrid model. You call it a souk, but it is a collective body; it offers a lot of potential. You need light here.

Ruairidh Jackson
I really like it; it makes sense to me. As an enterprise zone, we struggle to deliver office space for start-ups that might want to grow. This has a centre to it and feels like something that you could grow modularly. Something as incongruous as this would look different to the rest of the masterplan.

Ed Lister I can see it as an independent space, a jewel – something a bit different to the typical windswept office park. I like the sense of discovery.

60 seconds with Ben Adams Architects

What do you think when you hear the words ‘business park’?
Windy car parks, too much space, forbidding buildings. Bad landscaping and trash cans. Suburbia. Office space.

And when you hear the words ‘airport city’?
I am a bit confused as to what it is. Airports aren’t cities, they don’t have civic qualities.

What is the single most appealing aspect of the site and masterplan?
It’s a blank slate that you could do anything on. Its quite tense. There are 55,000 people on the neighbouring estate of whom everyone is quite fearful … then there’s a transport hub, that is about leaving.

How do you make a meaningful connection?
As it is an airport city, there is nothing civic. Like Vegas, it’s fleeting. There is no permanence.

In one sentence, sum up how you are bringing the site to life.
The standard business park is a campus of pavilions; we want to flip that so we have a Manchester-style building, creating a dense space with public spaces around it.

Which Manchester pop song sums up your approach?
‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses.

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