Located on Princess Street in Manchester, Brunel House is a grade II listed building contributing to the streetscape of Victorian warehouses.
Originally constructed in 1885 the building is now used as office with a ground level bar.
Ground level, as with many of Manchester’s city centre industrial heritage buildings, is raised by 1.5 metres from pavement making access for all a challenge in design terms. The interior has been altered dramatically by overlay of low value finishes leaving little of the original fabric remaining exposed. Entrance modifications in the 1960s resulted in a now outdated and insensitive concrete entrance feature which detracts from the composition of the elevation as a whole.
The design brief was to re-invigorate the interior of the building to provide an attractive, lower rent office environment in the city centre that will compete in a tough commercial market. The brief included the establishment of a level access from street into a re-configured ground floor lobby. The re-design to exposes parts of the original robust brick, iron and timber fabric and complementing this with contemporary additions. It also removes the concrete entrance portico constructed in the 1960’s and introduces frameless glazing within the existing strong brick rhythmic architecture of the original building to increase the transparency and readability of the ground floor entrance. The newly created double height entrance space gives a sense of arrival currently lacking in the compressed space and low ceiling of the existing entrance volume.
In assessing the way the building works the design is able to offer more lettable space to the owner by suspending new meeting room mezzanine decks within the exposed timber roof structure and volume on the fourth floor. The improved spatial efficiency also creates and exciting and unusual office space.