Blackfriars House


Commercial refurbishment and extension in central Manchester.
Blackfriars house is a ten-storey mixed-tenure commercial building adjacent to the River Irwell in the Parsonage Gardens conservation area of Manchester city centre.
Completed in 1923 by noted Manchester architect Harry S. Fairhurst, the building is a concrete-encased steel framed structure with Portland stone elevations. A strong vertical emphasis is tempered by the distilled classicism, with rustication to the ground floor and a heavy cornice.

MgMaStudio have developed a refurbishment and rooftop extension scheme which includes new food & beverage uses at ground floor and rooftop level, providing full architectural and planning agent services for the application approved by Committee in October 2019.

The project brief called for revitalisation of the common areas and workspaces, with the introduction of complementary uses to support the community of building users. Accordingly, the proposal responds to offer varying types of workspace supported by complementary leisure uses, event space, and food and beverage outlets.
The rooftop extension is derived from an analysis of Fairhurst's work. As a commercial warehouse specialist, his buildings display the often literal tension between the functional and beaux arts traditions; surface and structure vie for primacy in the composition. Blackfriars House is unusual in that its location adjacent to the River Irwell in a narrow urban block result in there being no 'back', which in Fairhurst's work is often the point of reveal, where the grid emerges from beneath the ornament.
The rooftop extension is thus an opportunity to reveal the grid, a lightweight structure which presents a glazed transition from elevation to roof, enabling the prominence of the frame to be revealed in silhouette. 


Commercial refurbishment/ extension
Client: Bruntwood


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