Urbis provides adaptable galleries with a vibrant mix of other uses. Our international competition winning design originally housed interactive city galleries, and now the building is home to the National Football Museum.
The building is a symbol of Manchester’s regeneration after the IRA's 1996 bombing. It repaired the existing streetscape, respects its historic context and creates Cathedral Gardens, a much needed city centre public space. By placing the building on the edge of the site, we maximised the area available for landscaped gardens and allowed greater opportunity to respect and enhance the listed and historic status of the building’s neighbours.
Rising six storeys, the dominant roof slopes and cants towards the city. An inclined elevator encourages visitors to the top to admire the cityscape and progress down a series of cascading mezzanine floors past unobstructed and flexible gallery spaces. Each floor is open to atria at their ends allowing visual connection to and from the ground level foyers, and providing an exciting and inviting visitor experience. The simple internal organisation differentiates between served and servant spaces with public circulation and movement overlooking Cathedral Gardens, and services and escape circulation located within the east buffer zone.
Outside, a sandblasted glass skin of varying transparency offers glimpses in and out of the building, through a textured and constantly changing surface made up of 2500 glass panels. Its soft natural green hue is complemented by the raking patinated-copper roof. An angular glazed lantern cuts a swathe through the roof, forming an emphatic spine to the building which terminates with a delicate copper finial. The cavity between the external and internal façade leaves dramatically improves energy efficiency by moderating solar gain and heat loss through a combination of triple glazing, louvres and blinds.