Property Alliance Group’s £60m scheme Axis, a development thought almost impossible to build due to its complex location, is weeks away from completion. Place North West took a tour of the 29-storey tower.
The scheme, designed by Jon Matthews Architects and built by Russells Construction with engineering support from WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, contains 170 apartments – including Manchester’s largest single-storey penthouse spanning 5,415 sq ft.
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Axis begins on a 8,200 sq ft triangular site, and cantilevers out by 10 ft either side on raking concrete columns. The columns enable the building to increase its footprint beyond the 3,230 sq ft wedge on the bank of the Rochdale Canal on which it is built, to 5,400 sq ft for each upper floor by transferring the load down to the foundations.
To build on the site, a crane had to be placed inside the building when assembling the structure; when complete, another, larger crane lifted out the internal crane piece by piece.
The building is clad with 2,200 angular glazed panels. The metallic black, silver and bronze sections of the panels appear to change colour over the course of the day, dependent on the weather. The city’s largest billboard is embedded on the side facing Manchester Central Convention Complex.
The residential tower – original plans a decade ago were for an office tower – is sandwiched between two metal clad planes facing the Rochdale Canal and Trafford Street. At the top of the building, the metal cladding passes the roof to create a ‘crown’.
The planes were designed to appear as though they clasp the building from above and can be seen from some of the apartments.
The building reaches a height of 92.6m from the lower ground level, which was the maximum engineered height possible for this site.
Access to the building is via a new bridge over the canal, which enters into the building’s reception, where a concierge, mail room and lift access will be given for residents.
The reception holds a concrete cruciform column that supports the 27 floors above at the prow of the building.
Each apartment has electric opening panels that create natural ventilation, and units on the east side of the building have full-height sliding doors. The penthouse also holds the accolade of possessing Manchester’s tallest sliding door.
The average apartment size for the one-bedroom units is 500 sq ft. For two-bedroom apartments it is 700 sq ft, and for three bedroom apartments 1,000 sq ft.
Prices for one-bedroom apartments start at £294,700, two-bedroom at £389,550, and three-bedroom from £526,176. There are 15 apartments left available, with 155 being sold before completion. They have been purchased by a mix of owner-occupiers and investors.
Every apartment has different layouts due to the shape of the site and the cantilever of the building.
PAG’s Manchester schemes, which are either on site or in the planning stages, have a total gross development value of £400m including Axis. Its other projects include the £100m Oxygen scheme which will have 358 apartments and 12 townhouses when complete in 2021; 3 St Peter’s Square, a 20-storey hotel to be occupied by Motel One and StayCity apartments; and 55 Portland Street, a 17-storey 329 bedroom hotel.
A subsidiary, Alliance City Living, has been created to provide Axis’s property management services to clients. ACL will also manage other Alliance schemes including Manhattan off New York Street, Uptown on the banks of the River Irwell, which is beginning in spring this year, and Oxygen on Albion Street.
Alex Russell, managing director of Property Alliance Group, said: “Axis is the realisation of a long-held vision which has involved many years of planning and preparation, so we are incredibly proud to see the building complete and be ready to welcome residents.
“We have had a fantastic response from those who have seen inside Axis and the quality of the interior design, features and specification. It’s a building that continues to surprise people, especially in terms of the amount of space that has been created.”
Gareth Russell, joint managing director of Russells Construction, said: “This is one of the most complex builds in Manchester, with almost every logistical challenge present. There were even some who said it couldn’t be built.
“The tiny site is directly on the edge of the canal bank, with the Metrolink line behind and two major roads in the city alongside. This made site logistics, deliveries and crane use particularly complex.
“Building a high rise cantilevered structure in this location was a challenge we embraced from the start and thanks to our dedicated project team and the intensive pre-planning work undertaken, the building has been delivered on time and on budget and is a new landmark on the city skyline.”
Jon Matthews, director of Jon Matthews Architects, added: “The completion of Axis is the realisation of an ambitious design idea that we first proposed more than 10 years ago. Walking across the steel bridge into the double-height lobby and seeing the fundamental form of the building’s construction is very special.”
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