Albion works is a dramatic mixed housing, office and retail project in a previously neglected area of the city by Manchester architects, Andrew Wallace; a response to an ambitious programme to build more high-density housing in our city centres. The brief asked for cost-effective contemporary apartments with an innovative and environmentally friendly approach to materials and construction methods, all within a progressive overall planning policy strategy.
The pure and dynamic elliptical shape, with its repetitive in-situ cast concrete frame and rhythmically abstract glazed facade, has more affinity with continental housing than the typical British apartment building. The structurally expressive, central-glazed atrium space is designed with consideration of a number of social, circulatory, servicing and bioclimatic factors. The space envelops the single monolith of the glass lift core and dramatic hanging stair with connecting drawbridges. The all-too-common entrance/corridor/single aspect apartment formula is rejected; instead this central space seeks to establish a humane environment, bringing together the building from sky to garden, providing natural ventilation via openable apertures to each apartment and a void for illumination by joyful natural light.