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Designed as a collaboration between SimpsonHaugh and Bond Bryan, the new City Campus combines Further and Higher Education on a single site and is the flagship of the College's new vision.

Replacing a surface car park on a prominent corner site in Manchester City Centre, the 18,500 sq. m campus comprises a range of teaching spaces including: two theatres, rehearsal spaces, dedicated music practice rooms, live rooms and recording studios, arts studios, shared workshop spaces, film and rehearsal studios, computing workshops, graphic design suites, and games design and computing rooms.

Based on a contemporary reimagining of a collegiate courtyard design, the campus is a 5-storey urban block encircling a covered central courtyard. This courtyard forms the heart of the campus with social/informal learning spaces on terraces at various levels within the courtyard, culminating in external terraces at roof level, with primary circulation routes passing through the courtyard at each level. The surrounding teaching blocks are based on a simple and highly flexible structural grid designed specifically to ensure future flexibility.

The main theatre, located at the centre of the courtyard, is designed as a “jewel box”, clad with embossed and perforated coloured stainless steel panels. Its distinctive form is visible through double height entrances from the surrounding streets, advertising the College’s exciting and varied curriculum to students and presenting a distinctive venue for public events and theatre nights.

To create distinct identities for the two separate functions – the further education college (The Manchester College) and the university level provision (UCEN) – each has a dedicated entrance. The topography allows these to be at different levels, ground and first, connected by a wide, inhabitable staircase within the courtyard. While specialist facilities can be shared, each function has its own social areas, external roof terraces, libraries and learning resource centres. UCEN facilities are generally arranged on the eastern and southern (New Bridge St) wings, and Manchester College facilities on the northern and west (Ducie Street) wings.

The design draws on Manchester’s industrial heritage. The masonry construction is reminiscent of the massive Brewery buildings which once stood on the site, whilst the ‘woven’ pattern in which the masonry panels are arranged is intended to invoke the area’s history of textile manufacturing.

Project information

  • Client

    LTE Group: The Manchester College & UCEN

  • Status


  • Area

    18,500sqm GIA

  • Start


  • Completion


  • Consultants

    Collaborating Architect:
    Bond Bryan
    Main Contractor:
    Willmott Dixon
    Project & Cost Manage
    Pearson Fraser
    Structural Engineer: AECOM
    BREEAM Consultant & Building Services: BDP
    Principal Designer:
    Robinson Low Francis
    Planning Consultants:
    Avison Young
    Fire & Acoustics Engineers:
    Hoare Lea
    Transport/Highways Engineers:SK Transport Planning
    Archaeological Consultant:
    Orion Heritage LTD
    Socio Economics:
    Brookdale Consulting

  • Elements

    Theatre - c.200 seats, c.300sqm
    Black Box Studio Theatre - c.100 seats, c.135sqm
    Rehearsal spaces
    Music practice rooms
    Live rooms
    Recording studios
    Film and rehearsal studios
    Arts studios
    Computing workshops
    Graphic design suites
    Games design and computing rooms
    Specialist technical teaching spaces
    Library and support facilities
    112 covered bicycle parking spaces

  • Awards

    2024 RIBA North West Award - Shortlisted
    2023 Education Estates® Awards Project of the Year – Colleges – Winner
    2022 Education Estates® Awards Project of the Year - Colleges - Shortlisted


Client comment

John Thornhill, Chief Executive

LTE Group

"This will be a landmark college for the city, providing students of the future with innovative ways of learning and preparing them for employment."