River Plaza, PAG And Forshaw, C North Made Studio
North Made Studio created this image of Property Alliance Group and Forshaw's River Plaza, designed by Jon Matthews Architects. Credit: North Made Studio

Best CGIs of 2021: North Made Studio

Julia Hatmaker

Cheadle-based North Made Studio has spent the past year crafting a dynamic array of architectural visualisations for clients that include Property Alliance Group, and Heaton Group.

The 10-person strong North Made is a wholly in-house team that is always encouraging its staff to learn, grow, and master the latest technology.

North Made takes pride in its work.

“I have never met a team more passionate about what they put out there,” said Helen Gardner, head of business development at North Made. “If they are not happy with an image, they’ll say ‘You have to tell the client I need another hour because I want to make the image right.’

“They will spend hours of an evening doing tutorials on YouTube, downloading the latest software – I don’t think I’ve ever worked with people who have wanted more to continue their journey,” she continued.

Gardner and the North Made team know that their work plays an important role in the development process, whether that’s helping a building get planning permission or recruiting investors or potential residents.

“Seeing that final image and seeing that plastered on Place North West or marketing brochures or being sent around the world to help sell millions of property stocks – and knowing the reason they could sell these stocks is because of our visuals, that is my favourite thing,” Gardner said.

To that end, Place North West asked Gardner to share her favourite North West-centric visualisations from this year. It proved to be a tough ask, with much of the studio’s recent work still under embargo as applications continue to be drafted. The studio has also been busy in London, where it has an office.

But in the end, there were three North West projects that stood out to Gardner.

River Plaza (pictured above)

  • Developer: Property Alliance Group and Forshaw
  • Architect: Jon Matthews Architects
  • Location: Manchester

North Made Studios set this image on an overcast day, an unusual choice for Manchester CGIs. The overcast weather meant the reflection on the water of the building would come out a certain way. It also helps spotlight the red of the brick, something North Made emphasises even more by incorporating other red elements, from the red of the trees to the red on the bridge to a pedestrian carrying a red umbrella.

The entire scene is CGI, including all the details of the buildings in the background.

“It all comes together to make this beautiful image,” Gardner said.

M1 Piccadilly, LW Group, C North Made Studio

Visualisation of M1 Piccadilly. Credit: North Made Studio

M1 Piccadilly

  • Developer: LW Group
  • Architect: 5plus Architects
  • Location: Manchester

This CGI was a difficult one to make, given the gold façade of the building. Natural instinct was to make the gold shine – but the instruction was for a matte look.

The other issue was the street itself. North Made did not want to change the street completely, but it was clear this part of Store Street needed something.

“We tidied it up,” Gardner said. “You don’t want to make over an area that’s not going to get a makeover, so we just very gently tidied it up.”

Things like adding a young professional going to work or people coming in and out of an entrance subtly tells the audience that they’re looking at a “nice, safe street in Manchester where this building will fit in nicely”.

Urban Green, Heaton Group, C North Made Studio

Visualisation of Urban Green. Credit: North Made Studio

Urban Green

  • Developer: Heaton Group
  • Architect: Leach Rhodes Walker, KMA Architects
  • Location: Manchester

Grey can be a tricky colour when it comes to making a building stand out, according to Gardner. So to give it a little extra pizzazz, North Made chose to set the scene on a nice sunny day in the middle of summer. The lushness of the green surroundings help the grey of the brick stand out.

The timing also meant the glass panel in the middle of the building could shine.

North Made wanted to spotlight the public realm in the scheme as well.

“We added a lot of families into the area because it is public realm and we wanted to make sure people realise it was public space,” Gardner said.

Urban Green Interior, Heaton Group, C North Made Studio

Interior visualisation of Urban Green. Credit: North Made Studio

North Made also made interior visualisations for Urban Green. Gardner said the client’s choice to use have large windows meant that the team could use a cityscape visual in the background.

“It makes the room look a lot bigger,” she explained.

Urban Green Roof, Heaton Group, C North Made Studio

Visualisation of the roof terrace on Urban Green. Credit: North Made Studio

It was also important to showcase the scheme’s roof terrace. Initially, North Made had the scene set during the day but the viewpoint meant the terrace housing on the left became a focal point. So it was changed to evening, so that the lighting of roof terrace could shine.

The image is a composite, with the CGI mixed in with actual drone footage from the site.

“I really like this image because it shows what a gorgeous space these roof terraces will be,” Gardner said.

North Made Studio Team, C North Made Studio

The North Made Studio team. Credit: North Made Studio

Want to see more CGIs of North West projects? See the best visualisations of 2021 from Our Studio.

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