The first residents have arrived at the 381-home Manchester scheme after main contractor Russell WBHO handed the project over following a 159-week build costing £80m.
Designed by Jon Matthews Architects, the three-block Store Street development reaches 31 storeys at its highest point.
The building is imposing when viewed from along Great Ancoats Street, but the man who designed it said just as much attention went into planning how Oxygen would work at street level.
“One of the things that our practice looks at in more detail than others is how a building hits the floor,” Jon Matthews told Place North West.
“When you’re walking around the building, it doesn’t feel like you’re adjacent to an anonymous tower. There’s lots of texture and richness at the ground floor, lots of interaction with the street.”
Oxygen is Matthews’s “biggest and most complex building” and resisting the temptation to overwork it was key to its success, he said.
“There’s a tendency sometimes to over-design or to put every idea you ever had into this one piece but I think there’s a lot of restraint shown on this building.
“You have to know when to stop. That is what I was taught at university by someone much cleverer than I am.”
Inside the building there are 20 different apartment types, offering a variety of choices to would-be buyers and renters. In addition to that, there are 12 townhouses that bring Millbank Street back into use, reanimating a previously underused thoroughfare. This is Matthews’ favourite part of the project.
The architect was hands-on during the construction phase, regularly liaising with Russell’s project director Richard Sumner.
“I’ve put four years of my life into this,” Sumner said.
When Sumner started pre-construction work on the scheme in 2017, his daughter was preparing for university. She graduated before the project wrapped up.
“We delivered it on time through the most challenging period we will ever experience in our lifetime. It’s a scheme to be proud of. I can smile at the end of it.”
Both Matthews and Sumner are happy with how the project turned out and so is their client.
Victoria Russell, director of strategy, brand and partnerships at Property Alliance Group said she was delighted with the finished project and hopes it can play a part in Manchester’s continued growth.
“There’s a responsibility to create communities that then come through the city into our jobs and businesses,” she said.
“All our buildings have a different design and a different feel. [At Oxygen] we wanted to create something homely and organic.”