Climat, a wine-focused restaurant, is set to open this autumn on the rooftop of Blackfriars House. Credit: via Siobhan Hanley Communications

Wine-focused rooftop restaurant coming to Manchester

Main contractor Dragonfly is transforming the roof of Bruntwood Works’ Blackfriars House into the home of Climat, a new endeavour from the team behind Chester’s Michelin-favourite eatery Covino.

Middleton-based Dragonfly has been on-site since January on the project. The aim is for Climat to open this autumn, offering diners a chance to enjoy 360-degree views of Manchester city centre while enjoying a daily-changing, seasonal-based food menu and a collection of 250 wines. Climat will share Luke Richardson as an executive chef with Covino.

Christopher Laidler, the owner of Climat and Covino, said opening an eatery in Manchester “represents a big step up” for the restaurant group.

“The site has so much to offer and we’re going to add something special to a great city,” Laidler said. “The space will be unique to others with its panoramic views and we can’t wait to share our progress during the build leading up to opening in autumn.”

Bruntwood head of retail and leisure, Charlotte Wild, said now felt like the right time to bring forward a new dining space in Manchester city centre.

“Climat will bring a unique experience to this exciting part of the city,” Wild said, later describing the restaurant as an “inspiring addition to Manchester”.

Wild continued: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Chris and his team to our Blackfriars community – they have an amazing vision and will complement this beautiful building perfectly.

“For us, hospitality is completely central to the workplace of the future and so to have such a high-quality offering at Blackfriars makes perfect sense.”

Construction is underway to build Climat. Credit: PNW

Building on the roof of a 1920s building came with technical challenges, not least when it came to weight. For instance, Climat will have a fully-enclosed glazed wine room that weighs five tonnes.

Building directly on the roof was not an option. Dragonfly thus opted to construct a steel superstructure that floats above the original roof and connects to the existing parapet walls.

Other challenges included working at height, the ever-changing Manchester weather and getting the right sequencing for the project.

“That was really tricky,” said Joe McKenna, managing director and founder of Dragonfly.

Dragonfly also had to be flexible.

“Because of the nature of the building – the fact you’re working with an existing structure – it is only when you start to open up that existing structure that you find things you’ve got to be adaptable on,” McKenna said.

“There’s going to be changes and tweaks, but we were really lucky because we have some great partners in the fabrication of the steelwork and glass.”

These partners were able to make quick changes, including when news came that a wine room would be needed – something that had not originally been in the cards.

The rooftop view from Blackfriars House. Credit: PNW

McKenna noted that changing technology and ways of thinking had also helped make the project possible.

“In the past, developers were traditionally nervous about adding a structure like this to an old building,” McKenna said. “But the value of the square footage on a roof is immense. You’ve got to maximise this. That’s pushed technology to come up with solutions that are going to maximise that estate.”

Dragonfly was helped in the project by its knowledge of Blackfriars, having worked on the building in some capacity since 2015. This has included Dragonfly’s fit-out services.

Working with Bruntwood, Dragonfly helped modernise lift lobbies and create a coworking hub, podcast studio and ground-floor café in the space. This was part of Bruntwood’s £200m Pioneer programme, which seeks to transform existing buildings into thriving workspaces that are filled with biophilia and amenities.

In addition to the rooftop restaurant, Dragonfly is also incorporating space on the Blackfriars’ roof for community events and yoga classes.

“It won’t be the typical Manchester rooftop,” said Tess McKenna, business development lead at Dragonfly. “It will be something a little bit different.”

McKenna said she and the Dragonfly team are looking forward to enjoying the fruits of its labour when the restaurant finally opens.

“What we’ve done will be quite impressive, given the challenges and circumstances of the climate at the minute,” she said.

“I’m excited to sit up there with a glass of wine and just enjoy it and the views.”

Joe McKenna and Tess McKenna on the roof of Blackfriars House. Credit: PNW

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