The University of Manchester’s Mecanoo-designed engineering campus has received planning permission from the Manchester City Council, greenlighting the £350 million project. The Manchester Engineering Campus Development is part of the University’s campus masterplan, meant to bring together a multidisciplinary engineering and scientific community and to consolidate the University’s campus around Oxford Road. The project is one of the largest single construction projects ever undertaken by an institution of higher education in the United Kingdom. MEC Hall, the main building of Mecanoo’s development, is 195 meters long.
“Integrating architecture, interior and landscape, we have designed a campus that will deliver a first-class teaching and research environment which will assist the University of Manchester’s ambition in becoming one of the top 25 research universities in the world,” says Francesco Veenstra, Partner at Mecanoo and Design Team Leader for this project. “MECD will have a strong identity that reflects Manchester’s past, present and future, as a city of pioneers, continued to be led by discovery.”
According to the architects, the design is meant to establish a sense of permeability between those using the building and the public, the development acting as a gateway between the existing campus and the surrounding city. The building’s materials choices of steel and brick are meant to present strong articulation of form and clear structure in the facade. Mecanoo likens the effect with an analogy: building as engine.
The goal of the project is to establish a facility that will encourage research and teaching activities in a flexible environment, both ready for today and able to adapt to future changes. Some of the building’s key facilities are ground floor maker spaces, flexible labs, bespoke project areas, and interactive learning environments. The building’s vast size – 70,590 square meters (760,000 square feet) – which will accommodate the University’s four engineering schools and two research institutes from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, will further develop the possibilities for cross-collaboration.
“This exciting new campus development is a once in a lifetime project that builds upon Manchester’s proud heritage of innovation and discovery across engineering and science that began with the establishment of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in 1824," says Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University. “MECD brings Manchester Engineering into one building as a focus for interdisciplinary teaching and research. We will train the engineers of the future and discover and apply new knowledge to help industry and society to increase wealth and employment and to overcome global challenges of climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets.”
Current demolition work will make way for the new facility, which is scheduled for completion in 2020.