Located on the former site of the BBC in Manchester, in the heart of Oxford Road Corridor, is a new and exciting district neighbourhood in the process of being built, named Circle Square.
Unmatched in location and scale the scheme will create a pioneering new destination within the city that will include over 1700 new homes, more than 1.2 million square feet of office space, two hotels and 100,000 square feet of retail and leisure space for shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Circle Square is arranged around a large central green, offering a rare and valuable place in the city for people to relax and interact.
FCBStudios was commissioned to masterplan the project and is now working on two office buildings, a pair of residential buildings including a 34 storey tower, student housing and the pavilion buildings.
Keith Bradley, senior partner at FCBStudios, gave Premier Construction an overview of the project:
“Circle Square is designed as a new mixed-use district, and could potentially be the most significant site in Central Manchester. The new buildings facing Oxford Road will house the retail and office spaces. Those on the side streets and facing the green will be more residential. The centrepiece will be a new city square, offering green space in central Manchester.”
“The idea behind the design is to create a vibrant and intense mixed-use central district. Within the practice we have separate teams working on the different aspects of the masterplan, but it was developed as a whole. We’ve created a palette of materials that work across the buildings and are working extensively in extruded ceramic cladding, which all have different forms, shapes and colours depending on the building. Although it’s the same material, each building will have its own distinct visual quality.”
The commercial buildings act as the gateway to the development. Designed for Bruntwood SciTech, they will house BREEAM Excellent; Grade A office space, aimed at creating a collaborative community of leaders in technology, business, arts and science in the Oxford Road Corridor. Designed to provide fully flexible and adaptable office space with ground floor retail, the buildings will face onto Oxford Road and create new active frontage and a clearly defined pedestrian route into the Circle Square development.
The residential accommodation for Select Properties will aim to bring together like-minded people to grow a creative community in the city centre. Residents will have access to lounges, co-working suites with associated meeting rooms, gym facilities, bookable private dining rooms, roof terraces with neighbouring lounges, leisure studios and secure cycle parking, all managed by Affinity Living and accompanied by a bespoke app for residents.
Affinity Living is orientated around the central green and will provide 683 one, two and three bedroom apartments and studios. The tallest of the blocks marks the top of the green, creating a beacon for the whole development.
There is also student accommodation, Vita Student, which will provide the highest quality serviced accommodation. FCBStudios have designed a scheme, bounded by Charles Street on the north edge of Circle Square, which will complement the recently completed neighbouring Vita building in function and form.
Each of the upper 16 floors will be made up of 23 studios, each 16.5sqm with a double bed, kitchen, shower pod and study space. Shared between these studios will be a communal living and dining space with a floor to ceiling glazed bay window. At ground level, the residents’ hub is a mix of both quiet and active zones which provides space for study, a meeting place and a welcoming area to relax and feel at home within. Vita Student will be completed ready for the start of the 2019 academic year.
Keith Bradley commented that the green space will be a highlight once the project is fully complete:
“The most special part of the masterplan is the space between the buildings; the new city square will be the heart of the scheme. Surrounded by cafes, bars and restaurants it will draw people in: office workers from 1 and 2 Circle Square as well as surrounding businesses, students from the nearby university as well as residents from the student and private residential accommodation will use it; it’ll be the real social hub of the space.
“In landscape and design terms the green is quite unusual. There are pavilion buildings that fold out from underneath the park at each end to form an amphitheatre in between. The space will be there for people to relax and enjoy, for external events and to take in the occasional Manchester sunshine.”
“For us, working in Manchester is very exciting because things happen quickly. We like working in big cities and to work on a significant district of Manchester City Centre like this is a privilege. It’s going to be a big part of the city, with many diverse uses and outstanding architecture.”