Birley Fields Student Accommodation

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) proposed the development of the site for circa 491 bedrooms in a PBSA complex in study bedroom format with associated reception, meeting and social hub facilities on site.

Date

2021

Client

Kier Construction

Value

£21m

At the time of completion, the newly branded Archway Halls was the tallest building in the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) estate, containing 491 bedrooms in a study bedroom format in clusters of 8 with associated reception, accommodation office, group study rooms and social hub facilities on site.

Kier Construction appointed jmarchitects at RIBA Stage 3 to help value engineer the concept design bringing it in line with MMUs budget and subsequently deliver the building through RIBA Stages 4 and 5.

The proposed purpose-built student accommodation blocks in two contrasting tones of red brick was designed to respond to the materials of the local context with brickwork reveals and fenestration to provide depth, proportion and rhythm to the facades with the form developed to address the site’s prominence relative to the Princess Parkway and the Hulme Arch.

The development comprises three district elements;

  • 16 Storey block facing onto Birchall Way and overlooking the Princess Parkway
  • 11 Storey block to the rear onto Stonelow Close
  • 6 Storey block to Stretford Road which leads to the Hulme Arch

The building is arranged with the main entrance and reception located at ground floor level from the quieter Bonsall Street with two single storey elements connecting the taller blocks. Also located at ground floor level is the associated plant, cycle, and bin stores along with the student social and study spaces formed around a courtyard providing an external amenity space.

The site is bounded on two of the other sides by existing highways including The A5013 Princess Parkway leading into the city centre and Stretford Road which connects the site to the Manchester Met campus.

Post RIBA Stage 4, changes to the building regulations relating to the combustibility of elements used in the construction of the external envelope of residential buildings over 18m. Although a linear path to compliance was taken at Stage 4 using only non-combustible main construction elements of brick, Rockwool insulation, SFS and cemboard; the amended Part B also prohibited the use of combustible ancillary products such as cavity trays and weep holes which complicated the technical design of the scheme. This resulted in the inclusion of new non-combustible products being used and some innovative bespoke building elements being developed to resolve some tricky detailing.

The Challenge

Post RIBA Stage 4, changes to the building regulations relating to the combustibility of elements used in the construction of the external envelope of residential buildings over 18m. Although a linear path to compliance was taken at Stage 4 using only non-combustible main construction elements of brick, Rockwool insulation, SFS and cemboard; the amended Part B also prohibited the use of combustible ancillary products such as cavity trays and weep holes

The Solution

Research undertaken by jmarchitects and the approved inspector revealed that stainless steel cavity trays had been used on a similar schemes, so in association with the masonry support subcontractor bespoke stainless steel cavity trays were provided to fit the complex traditional brick design.

The Outcome

Behind the sleek brickwork facades lie a complex arrangement of non-combustible building components including masonry support systems, cavity trays and cavity barriers which underwent intense technical design to ensure a compliant and elegant building.

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