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Green light for new 'engineering landmark' at Manchester

University of Manchester receives approval for £350m new engineering campus

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 08, 2016 | Estates

The University of Manchester has received planning permission from Manchester City Council to create a £350 million engineering campus, designed by Dutch architecture practice Mecanoo. The new engineering campus is intended to be a Manchester landmark, celebrating engineering within the world’s first modern city.

Announced last year, the Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) will be one of the largest, single construction projects ever undertaken by a higher education institution in the United Kingdom. The development will transform the way in which the University educates future engineers with inspiring, modern facilities. At 195 metres long, the development’s main building - MEC Hall - could easily accommodate Manchester’s tallest building, Beetham Tower, laid sideways.

The development - due to be completed in 2020 - is part of the university’s campus masterplan to create a world-leading campus. This flagship project will bring together a multi-disciplinary engineering and scientific community and consolidate the University’s student campus around Oxford Road. The new campus will heighten the visibility and accessibility of the University’s world-changing engineering and applied science activity, and facilitate strong engagement with industry, local schools and the wider public.

An artist's impression of the new York Building

Francesco Veenstra, Partner at Mecanoo and Design Team Leader for MECD, said: “MECD will have a strong identity that reflects Manchester’s past, present and future, as a city of pioneers, continued to be led by discovery. The design is driven by the core principles of visibility of activities, technology, permeability, urban continuity and craftsmanship. As a gateway between the existing University of Manchester campus and the city, MECD’s open character will attract people to the facilities and showcase the activities inside. A palette of simple and honest materials, like brick and steel, is combined with a strong articulation of form and a clear structural expression of the facades. The building can be envisioned as an engine: spawning a wide range of research and teaching activities and to take place with a high level of flexibility and adaptability for future change.”

An artist's impression of the MEC Hall

The new campus will help demonstrate how UK engineering is one of the most creative industries in the world with a focus on users building, making and doing. A key feature on the ground floor of the main hall will be dedicated ‘maker spaces’: dynamic workshops in which students and academics will share ideas and work together. The scheme boasts flexible labs, bespoke project areas and interactive learning environments to support innovation, creativity and collaboration on a completely new scale.

Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University, said:
“This exciting new campus development is a once in a lifetime project that builds upon Manchester’s proud heritage of innovation and discovery across engineering and science that began with the establishment of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in 1824. MECD brings Manchester Engineering into one building as a focus for interdisciplinary teaching and research. We will train the engineers of the future and discover and apply new knowledge to help industry and society to increase wealth and employment and to overcome global challenges of climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets.”

An artist's impression of a walkway connecting buildings in the MECD

Once complete, MECD will become home to the University’s four engineering schools and two research institutes from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. It will include 70,590 m2 of modern teaching spaces and facilities that reflect the changing demands of students and staff for mobile and flexible working. Cutting-edge technologies will enable students across all disciplines to engage with new modes of teaching.

Demolition on the site is currently underway and main construction works are scheduled to begin later this year.    

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