Kampus district elevates city’s diversity | Vibrant canalside

Converted historic warehouses and red brick new-builds characterise Kampus, a recently completed large-scale development in central Manchester by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo. 

The architects saw the design for the Kampus neighbourhood as an opportunity to develop the city at block scale, creating a lively destination that respects the historic nature of its site. Overlooking the Rochdale Canal and the city’s iconic Canal Street, the new district comprises 533 homes, leisure and retail spaces, and a new public square with gardens. It is set across five buildings, two of which are new-builds and three existing built structures, including two listed former shipping warehouses and a 1960s concrete tower. 

Situated at the former Manchester Metropolitan University campus, next to Manchester Piccadilly Station, Kampus is developed at block scale “with variations in height to make each façade legible,” as Mecanoo explains. 

“The alternating positions of accentuated apertures in the façade work reduce the scale of the brick mass, while the light pixel elements add relief and balance to the façades. The buildings are horizontally divided into three distinct elements: a podium with dark-profiled metal cladding, a mid-section with rough textured red brickwork, and a roofscape characterised by Dutch houses also clad in profiled metal.”

Working closely with Mecanoo, Liverpool-based ShedKM repurposed two Grade II listed Victorian shipping warehouses to provide much-needed rented housing for the city centre. This involved the preservation of historic features such as original cast iron columns and red brickwork, in the creation of 58 contemporary loft-style apartments with access to a gym, yoga studio, and a cinema.

Focusing on welcoming the broader public, the Kampus development also features landscaped entrances and interesting spaces between the buildings to draw people in. A new pedestrian route runs through a formerly inaccessible street, and will lead to a bustling area filled with independent bars, cafés, shops, and restaurants. All of this is imaginatively set around a ‘secret garden’, a lushly planted area designed for social gatherings. 

Project details:

Location: The former Manchester Metropolitan University campus, Manchester

Programme: 533 apartments and leisure/retail spaces across five unique buildings, totalling 44,000m²; public realm and gardens

Client/ Property Developer: Capital & Centric and Henry Boot Developments

Design Team: Mecanoo (design architect/landscape); ShedKM (architect of the listed canal warehouse buildings); Exterior Architecture (landscape architect for the new build), Chapman Taylor (delivery architect for the new build)

Photography: Greg Holmes Photography

Discover more projects that bring people and spaces together by Mecanoo.

Take a look at Borough Yards, London’s new shopping district, and more architecture news on enki.

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