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The Mancunian Way is a natural boundary to the progressive expansion of the city-centre. The close-knit composition of 3 buildings at Parkway Gate is an important component of the master-plan that will govern development on this urban edge. The architecture firmly establishes the emerging street grid and addresses the scale and dynamism of the elevated highway. It also raises the benchmark of design quality for student accommodation which is emerging as an increasingly important building type.

The buildings rise from 14 to 18 storeys and are arranged around a private courtyard. Their sculptural forms are a carefully considered reconciliation of high-density accommodation and visual permeability. Internal layouts are optimally efficient clusters of bedrooms with social facilities at ground floor that activate the frontages. The courtyard orientates pedestrian circulation and linkages, and its landscape design enhances the public realm by encompassing the south-facing street corners.

The elevations respond to their distinct public and private faces. Each of the 3 buildings’ external facades has contrasting materiality and colour derived from their individual context. The courtyard is composed of muted shades that echo the glazed brick light-wells typical of the city’s Victorian warehouses. The back-painted glazed envelope along the elevated highway comprises a pixilated matrix of vibrant colours abstracted from a night-time image of the sweeping lights from moving traffic. It is overlaid by screen-printed graphics that advertise the university’s 90 courses.

Project information

  • Client

    Downing Developments

  • Status


  • Area

    21,923 sq m

  • Start


  • Completion


  • Consultants

    Structural Engineer: Halcrow Yolles
    Building Services Engineer: WSP
    Main Contractor: George Downing Construction

  • Elements

    729 student bedrooms
    2,392 sq m retail space
    Central courtyard
    2 glazed podium spaces
    BREEAM Very Good rating
    14-18 storeys

  • Awards

    2009 RICS North West: Best Residential Building
    2009 Manchester Society of Architects: Overall Winner
    2009 Manchester Society of Architects: Large Residential Category
    2008 Manchester Confidential: Best New Building

Core Team