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Mecanoo lands its largest ever UK job

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Dutch practice Mecanoo has won its biggest ever UK project - a new £200million engineering campus for the University of Manchester

Mecanoo topped an undisclosed five-strong shortlist to win the job which is the first part of a £1billion planned expansion of the prestigious university.

The Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) is the largest individual project within the wider masterplan (see box below) and will involve the relocation of a number of the university’s engineering schools into a ‘regenerated site in the heart of the existing campus’.

The 60,000m² scheme will be a mixture of new build and refurbishment, including the overhaul of the university’s grade II-listed Oddfellows Hall.

Mecanoo founding partner and AJ Woman Architect of the Year Francine Houben said the scheme would be run from the practice’s Delft headquarters but with support from its satellite office in Manchester.

Houben said the practice was ‘extremely happy’ to have landed the prestigious job, but she refused to be drawn on how the scheme may look:

‘Most of it will be new build, but let’s wait and see!,’ she said. ‘We need to create a pleasant atmosphere; a learning environment to provide moments of inspiration,’ she added.

Penoyre & Prasad will work alongside Mecanoo, but Houben said she was ‘still fine tuning’ the London practice’s role.

AECOM’s consulting team has been appointed by Mecanoo to provide design management and specification consultancy services.

Gerard Daws, head of design management and specifications at AECOM, commented: ‘This is an exciting and important win for the whole design team and reflects the great work that Mecanoo has done since entering the UK market with the Library of Birmingham appointment. We have a very strong relationship with Mecanoo, having worked with them on the Library and North West Cambridge amongst others. This has put us in a fortunate position to see the rapid strengthening and progression of the practice.’

The win is another feather in the cap for the practice which has received numerous plaudits for its £193million Birmingham Library scheme, including topping an AJ poll for 2013’s building of the year and RIBA’s West Midlands building of the year.

The building is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Other practices signed up to the £1billion 10 year programme:

  • Whitworth Art Gallery: MUMA
  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre:  Wilson Mason
  • National Graphene Institute: Jestico + Whiles
  • AV Hill Building: Wilson Mason
  • Jodrell Bank: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Simon Building Improvement: Fairhurst Design Group
  • Coupland III Building: Wilson Mason
  • Manchester Business School Redevelopment: BDP
  • The University of Manchester Library Refurbishment: Ryder Architecture
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