A green lung for Manchester

DMA has been commissioned to design a new sustainable office scheme in the heart of Manchester’s City Centre. A key feature will be a passive stack ventilation system to bring fresh, cooling air into the building without requiring any mechanical assistance. It will also include an internal vertical atrium, roof-harvested rainwater, ground source heat exchange system and solar panelling. The project features in AJ’s 08.03.07 UK Architecture/Sustainability issue.

This 14-storey mixed use development, comprising retail and office space with a basement car park, aims to respond positively to the cityscape and urban setting of Manchester city centre.

The emphasis of the energy strategy is on reducing the energy load and ascertaining the best way in which to meet the renewable energy requirements for development through the balanced use of organic and inorganic mechanisms. Responding to the urban constraints and contextual requirements of the scheme, the ventilation strategy uses a passive stack effect and pressure differentials to bring fresh, cooling air into the building without mechanical systems.

This, in conjunction with a vertically planted atrium – introduced to condition the air taken into the building – and the integration of thermal mass within the construction, significantly decrease the energy consumption of the development by maximising the use of natural energy. Further intelligent integration of building systems will provide larger energy savings.

The vertical planting of the atrium improves and conditions the internal environment, acting as an air scrubber, humidifier and temperature-control mechanism. Roof-harvested rainwater is stored to irrigate the plants, reducing the surface-water run-off from the development and providing an acoustic buffer to one face of the development.

The renewable energy requirements for the development will be met by incorporating a ground source heat exchange system within the foundation piles and the use of solar thermal collectors at rooftop level.