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This student accommodation development comprises three distinct volumes: a volume stepping from ten storeys fronting Garwood Street, down to five storeys facing River Street, and a 32 storey tower. The composition of the three simple, bold volumes expresses the modular nature of the accommodation.

The building’s main entrance and reception foyer are accessed at ground floor level from River Street. Setting the building back from the pavement provides a wider public realm along River Street leading to the front entrance, and a widened sequence of landscaped public realm spaces along Mancunian Way. Also at ground level are the student amenity spaces and associated plant and back of house spaces.

The building’s architectural composition relates to a city wide and local context, with the volumes each set at a scale comparable with their surrounding context.

The outer elevations comprise a combination of Cor-Ten weathered steel rainscreen cladding panels providing a contextual material relationship with the local surrounding built environment. In contrast, the inner courtyard elevations comprise a combination of coloured dark-blue back-painted glass rain-screen and dark-blue metal panels, creating a layered, reflective sequence of surfaces.

The development has successfully regenerated a dilapidated brownfield site, previously considered to be a city eyesore. The development will strengthen links between Great Jackson Street, First Street and the University districts, forming a marker for Manchester’s Southern Gateway. River Street opened its doors to its first students residents in September 2021.

Project information

  • Client


  • Status


  • Area

    22,879sq m

  • Start

    July 2018

  • Completion


  • Consultants

    Contractor: Downing Construction
    Structural Engineer: The Alan Johnston Partnership
    Building Services Engineer: Desco / H.E. Simm
    Landscape Architect: Optimised Environments (Op-En)
    Fire Engineer: Omega Fire

  • Elements

    792 student residential units
    5-32 storeys

Core Team