Manchester Metropolitan University
A tough, flexible and fun new building for the students of Manchester Metropolitan University, made from materials that reflect its cultural importance and pay homage to neighbouring Victorian pubs and playhouses.
Following our successful completion of the nearby Manchester School of Art, we have designed this building to be robust and functional – to cope with the rigours of a busy student union – but also decorative and playfully detailed. Exterior surfaces are made from textured graphite bricks, similar in colour to materials used at the School of Art, but contrasting with the surrounding red brick buildings. Interiors feature ceramic tiles inspired by the glazed tiling found on local Victorian buildings, such as The Salutation pub next door, which has been run by the union since 2011 and retains its original 1840s décor.
Internal spaces are open and flexible, featuring exposed structures and services and pre-cast concrete walls, which creates a no-nonsense and informal atmosphere. The new building is equipped for all the things a modern student union needs – table tennis, pool tables and coffee shops for the daytime, bars and sound systems for the night time. It also has meeting rooms and office spaces for the more serious side of running a student union.
A range of thoughtful details lighten the industrial feel inside, such as a chequerboard relief cast into the concrete of the foyer and steel balusters laser-cut with tiny diamond crosses. We’ve punctuated the grey of the concrete and dark external brickwork with a cheeky yellow, so a double-height yellow wall greets you on arrival, while yellow handrails, furniture and mustard yellow tiling continue the theme inside.