Sustainability and the path to ‘true’ Net Zero Carbon isn’t just about repurposing old buildings….it’s so much more. Manchester’s ‘The Press’ project recently won the IStructE Northwest sustainable project award and demonstrates this idea beautifully.
The history of The Press
This Grade II listed complex of buildings was developed between the 1840s to the 1930s, with new building forms added to the site over time. These incremental innovations reflected the significant advancements in construction materials and methodology made during the second industrial revolution.
Originally purposed as the Cooperative Printing Rooms, the use of the buildings changed over time. From office and warehouse to part music studio, the development has now begun a new chapter as a refined inner city residential unit.
Our approach to an award-winning project
At renaissance, we paired practical building know-how with our specialist expertise in conservation, complex refurbishments and advanced modelling to produce a low embodied carbon and cost-effective structural refurbishment.
As with all our projects, our design principles enabled us to:
- Maximise the opportunities for our clients and minimise their costs
- Collaborate with the team to work with the ‘grain’ of the existing building, minimising structural works
- Use our engineering nous to assess the existing structure and do the leg work required to avoid strengthening
- Keep strengthening to an absolute minimum where it was unavoidable
- Make interventions reversible so repurposing of the building for future generations is not compromised.
Through this approach and working closely with the team, we were able to repurpose the building with very limited need for strategic demolition and only minimal strengthening requirements when we came to add additional floors. Where required, strengthening was generally undertaken with timber and carefully detailed small steel brackets.
The intervention works were legible, aesthetically pleasing and reversible.
Maintaining the heritage sense of place and reducing embodied carbon
Our expertise in refurbishment and conservation engineering meant we avoided the steel flitch and steel channel solutions so often seen in refurbishment projects. Not only do these solutions detract from the visual heritage of a building, but they look heavy-handed, increase embodied carbon and come at an increased commercial cost when compared to the minimum intervention approach we adopted.
The project was a collaborative effort that included:
Salboy, Axis Architects, Domis, Novo, Design Fire Consultants and Hann Tucker, as well as the involvement of numerous specialist craftspeople.
If you’re a client, architect, project manager or other professional and have a refurbishment or repurposing project where you want to maximise the development potential, reduce your embodied carbon footprint, and save money, contact renaissance engineers today for a consultation.