This is Manchester… as you’ve never seen it before


Manchester As You've Never 3

Manchester’s ever-changing skyline is about to undergo further transformation. The construction of the towers at Owen Street and Trinity Islands will see the first skycrapers in the city, and the first in the UK outside London. The above composite graphic shows the dramatic impact the new tall buildings will have.

The below skyline diagram identifies buildings by predominant land-use, showing us that the recent rise of the city’s skyline is being driven by the residential sector. It’s a sign that the residential development market in Manchester is on the up. The demand for living in the city centre remains strong across all social groups, including retirement living.

Manchester Savills Uses Diagram

The city’s history of tall buildings began more than 140 years ago in 1877 when the clock tower and spire of the Town Hall opened. It stands at around 85m and was the tallest structure in Manchester for a very long time.

The height of the spire was surpassed by the CIS Tower which was completed in 1962 and at the time was the tallest building in the UK standing at approximately 115m.  Many of the existing towers in Manchester were developed during the 60s and 70s. Recognisable additions during this period include Portland Tower (1962, 80m), City Tower (1965, 123m) and Arndale House (1979, 90m). Of these only the City Tower building is shown on the skyline diagram, its silhouette distinctive for the antenna and radio transmitting equipment on its roof.

The iconic Beetham Tower Hilton Building, which opened in 2006 and stands at 169m, is currently the tallest tower in the city. This title went unchallenged as the economic recession of 2008 stifled development, particularly of this scale. The city’s appetite for tall buildings has evidently recovered. Recent additions to the skyline include One Spinningfields standing at around 86m and One Regent at 82m, both of which opened last year.

As the diagrams show, the rise of Manchester’s skyline continues, with many more additions planned or under construction.

In January this year the City Council’s Committee approved an update to the Great Jackson Street Strategic Regeneration Framework, where the Owen Street towers are currently being constructed. The Framework sets out proposals for a number of potential new towers which are set to transform the skyline at the southern end of the city centre.

The recently released Manchester Piccadilly Strategic Regeneration Framework also includes some plots which are considered appropriate for tall buildings above 20 stories high, which will create a sense of arrival for passengers arriving at the new HS2 terminal at Piccadilly Station, transforming the skyline at this important gateway to the eastern side of the city centre.

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Someone has forgotten Sunlight House, the first building to top the town hall and about 40 years before the CIS building. And, if Joseph Sunlight had had is way Manchester would have had the tallest building in the UK at that time.

By Frank Lloyd Wright

The Owen Street ones looks pretty miserable to live in! Bigger is certainly not always better.

By Town Planner

Lee House of course was originally to be the highest building in Europe at strangely only 17 storeys tall. I suppose it depends on the width of the storeys I suppose. Sunlight house would have been spectatcular if it had gone ahead. The original plans for that were amazing. There are plans to builsd a skyscraper next to it I believe.

By Elephant

That’s an opinion you have there TP, many people, myself included would love to live in a high rise like this. Bigger IS usually better when it comes to buildings, The world’s best cities have many like this.

By Lemme

Lemme – why aren’t all houses tall and narrow then? When land values justify density, we build upwards; not because it is more pleasant to live in. The world’s “best” cities have height and density because land values dictate this. In Manchester, height is becoming viable, although we’re seemingly a long way from being able to justify any kind of value being incorporated. Those towers won’t have balconies, and lets be honest, not much by way of a view.

By Town Planner

The future’s bright… and tall. Manchester’s urban renaissance show’s no sign of slowing down. With a continuously growing youthful demographic in the urban core, there will be plenty of snareas of opportunity.

By Davide Dildossen

Ahh the views of a miserable old Town Planner who is stuck in their ways and doesn’t like change. Move over buddy this is a new era and us young built environment professionals are about to tear up the outdated planning books. The sky is the limit and I am for one excited about what the future holds for my beloved forward-thinking Manchester.

By Anonymous

Town Planner do you actually believe tall buildings are only ever built by necessity? There are hundreds if not thousands of examples around the world that disprove your theory. A town planner who hasn’t done any research it seems.

By Lemme

Anon – I like change. I’d love change in Manchester, where there could be more thought given to public spaces and the urban realm, and encouraging design that serves the needs of inhabitants. There’s so much work to do in Manchester, and I’d hate to see it stay the same as I don’t think its a very liveable city centre. I’m not convinced its heading in the right direction for the most part (this is my opinion, I would accept) – but you can’t label me as someone resistant to change.

Lemme – yes, tall buildings are typically built tall by necessity. Occasionally from ego, but usually by pure necessity.

By Town Planner

One point which Town planner is right about regarding Manchester is public realm and open space. The city is devoid of one decent centrally located park and all the squares with the exception of St Peters are pretty uninspiring. St Ann’s used to be pretty but now looks like something in an Essex commuter town full of tacky shops. Albert has been ruined by the horrible architecture facing the town hall and Piccadilly gardens is beyond redemption. As for tall buildings,they do give a city an air of prosperity,particularly from a distance and if done properly can stand the test of time. The CIS is an example of a 50 plus years design which still looks impressive in my eyes.It will soon have neighbours and both the NOMA tower on Rochdale road and the proposed one for Angel Meadows are exciting. Manchester needs a signature tower though. This must surely come very soon. Just another glass block is not going to cut it in this city anymore. Let us hope that there is someone with vision involved in the Mayfield project as that area is the first place visitors see on trains.

By Elephant