Complex project puts Hydro in Manchester

Unitized curtain walling from Wicona Projects has been specified for an 18-floor office tower in the heart of Manchester – believed to be the most complex building site in the city.

June 2, 2008

The unitized façade is being designed and overseen by Wicona Projects and fabricated by Norking Aluminium in a £3.2m contract.

Designed by HKR Architects, the office tower will provide around 72,000 square feet of office space in a fully glazed tower, offering 360˚ panoramic views across the city.

The building covers a constrained and challenging site, close to tram lines and railway tracks and oversailing two busy highways and the Bridgewater Canal. The specification of a unitized solution for the project will eliminate the need for scaffolding and the storage of cladding materials and glass handling on site – a major advantage for restricted city center sites.

More than 4,600 square meters of Wicona's unitized curtain walling will be manufactured off site by Norking and installed using a mono-rail system for the faster completion of a watertight envelope to each floor and earlier fitting out. This will reduce the time on site by around 40 percent.

Frameless appearance

The façade will be structurally bonded to achieve a frameless appearance and allow uninterrupted views from the new offices.

The Wicona solution will carry high-performance solar control glass to flood the interior with natural light, and vertical recessed aluminium panels in varying widths and spanning up to 7.4 meters high, will create a sense of dynamism and movement across two elevations.

"A unitized façade was our only option because the site has no access and so scaffolding is impossible," says project manager Phil Jay of Russells Construction.

Paul Norbury, a project architect at HKR Architects, adds that "unitized curtain walling was the only solution for this project. The approach really lends itself to tall buildings and difficult city center sites such as this."

The largest integrated aluminium company in Europe, Hydro is one of the preferred suppliers of aluminium building systems worldwide. Its international brands – Domal, Technal and Wicona – cover the range of system products, from windows and doors for single-home residential solutions to the erection of façades on major structures such as new airports or high-rise buildings.


Updated: October 11, 2016