Oddfellows Hall Interior 3 MECD
Architects BDP, Mecanoo and Penoyre & Prasad led the 34,200 sq ft heritage project

Refurb of historic Oddfellows Hall completes  

Sarah Townsend

The oldest building on the University of Manchester’s under construction engineering campus has been renovated and extended, to provide a heritage focus for the £400m scheme.

Architecture studios BDP, Mecanoo and Penoyre & Prasad have worked with main contractor Balfour Beatty to refurbish the 21,000 sq ft Oddfellows Hall, which was originally built in 1857 and reconstructed in 1916.

The building on Grosvenor Street in the city centre takes its name from the Oddfellows Friendly Society, which is a non-political international fraternity first documented in London in 1730. The society aims to promotes friendliness, benevolence, charity and philanthropy.

Oddfellows Hall Interior 1 MECD

Oddfellows Hall was first built in 1857

Under the refurbishment, Oddfellows Hall has been renovated to accommodate a suite of conference rooms, academic workspaces and a restaurant through a 12,800 sq ft extension. The project also included landscaping around the building to enhance the setting of the structure.

The revamped 34,200 sq ft building now forms part of the new Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) – under development at present as one of the largest single construction projects undertaken by a UK higher education institution.

Oddfellows Hall is located at the corner of the new campus and is to be flanked by three new build engineering centres, including the Manchester Engineering Campus Hall, and buildings on Upper Brook Street and York Street.

Once complete, those buildings will accommodate student workshops and practical learning spaces for around 7,000 students and 1,300 staff, and “heavy duty” laboratories for the university’s four engineering schools and two research institutes.

BDP is providing detailed design consultation services for the entire MECD project. The value of the Oddfellows scheme was not disclosed.

Paul Owen, architect associate at BDP, said: “The renovation of Oddfellows Hall has allowed the university to retain its historic buildings and extend its world-leading engineering and technology laboratories and workspaces.”

Owen added: “It has been a fantastic building to work on. Its rich history and intricate architecture mean there was always an interesting story to uncover. The final design and refurbishment does justice to the legacy of the building and the campus, and we are sure students will be able to make the most of the building when they return next year.”

The wider MECD development is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Oddfellows Hall Modern Canteen MECD

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Excellent refurbishment by Balfour Beatty of one of Manchester’s great heritage buildings. Why no mention of the contractors who worked hard with their grit and determination to achieve this magnificent finished product? Especially considering they worked through a global pandemic to get this delivered on time.

By Big Dub