Child Graddon Lewis grabs next tranche of Granada Studios work

Child Graddon Lewis has won the latest phase of work at the £1bn regeneration of Manchester’s old Granada Studios.

The architect has been appointed to design a 70,000 sq m mixed-use development on two car parks at the western end of what is now called the St John’s Quarter, a 5ha site in the city centre.

One early proposal for the car park site is being touted as a “vertical village” – two towers that could contain 1,500 flats, a school, shops and other leisure facilities including communal winter gardens within the towers’ cores.

Mike Ingall, boss of developer Allied London, stressed the project was still at a very early concept stage.

He said: “The vertical village is an idea. It might not be realistic but who knows. You have got to be bold and push the boundaries of living and that is what we are trying to do.”

The eight-year project to transform the former Granada TV studios has been masterplanned by SimpsonHaugh & Partners and revolve around The Factory, a major arts space backed by the Treasury to the tune of £78 million.

Other architects already signed up at St John’s include Buckley Gray Yeoman and Levitt Bernstein, which is converting Ralph Tubbs’ studio building into the “UK’s first event hotel”.

Key to the adopted framework is the retention of the heritage and historical buildings identified on the site, including the iconic nine-storey administrative building, the Victorian Bonded Warehouse and the former television studios. The masterplan will also retain the ITV Gardens, which will be opened up for public use as part of a network of new green spaces.

Ingall said St John’s would turn the perceptions of city centre living “on its head”.

“Our vision is not just to create a mixed-use neighbourhood for Manchester but to bring together enterprise, innovation, culture, entertainment and leisure in a unique proposition for the city,” he said.

“Rich layers of ‘urban laminates’ will form the basis of the landscape with multi-level public realm from street level, to overhead elements and sky gardens that will create texture, interest and activity.”

Work was due to start on Allied London and Axis Architects’ No1 Spinningfields this week.

The architect writes

Until recently, work relating to vertical communities was predominantly conceptual. However, the demand for high density sustainable structures has led many developers and architects worldwide to start considering the concept as a real world option.

Having explored ideas surrounding vertical communities as part of the regeneration of the old Granada Studios site in Manchester, CGL has now been commissioned to look into how this idea could work as a reality at the western end of the new St. John’s site.

Vertical communities are built structures that aim to provide all that is required for a functioning population to flourish, economically and sustainably. These buildings take high density living to a new level, incorporating places to work, shop, rest and play. They provide areas of ‘green’ amenity space and can even incorporate facilities for the growing of food, rearing of animals etc.

Vertical communities incorporate all of the features of a city into one structure, from dwellings to offices and from dentists to cinemas. Buildings of this scale and complexity therefore present a diverse range of challenges including access and circulation (both vertically and horizontally), structural and servicing strategy, providing an enriching environment for its inhabitants, and ensuring a sustainable and long term strategy for a specific urban area.

Child Graddon Lewis