XYZ Manchester

Cartwright Pickard, Manchester, 2016


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The building sits on a prominent long skinny site, adjacent to Hardman Boulevard 

Hufton + Crow     Download Original

  • The building sits on a prominent long skinny site, adjacent to Hardman Boulevard    
  • View of building taken on Hardman Boulevard looking west    
  • XYZ Atrium    
  • Ground floor and reception    
  • Ground floor    
  • Helical stair in double-height space between Level 7 and Level 7 mezzanine    
  • Main reception desk    
  • Typical office floor with 450mm raised access floor    
  • View across Level 7 towards linear terrace with feature helical stair    
  • View from the upper basement along the cycle ramp    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Ground floor plan, typical floor plan and seventh mezzanine floor plan    
  • Typical upper floor plan    
  • Level 7 typical floor plan    
  • Section AA    
  • Diagram of building features    
  • Additional diagram of building features    
  • Curtain wall detail section    

Cartwright Pickard’s XYZ building in Manchester provides 22,000m2 of office space for the city.

The building is laid out over eight floors, with two basements, on a 1.5m structural grid, with perimeter columns at 3m centres. The two top floors, one a mezzanine, are stepped back to create upper terraces.

It is built with an in-situ concrete-frame, marking it out in an area of otherwise steel-frame buildings. Internal surfaces are high-quality self-finished – in particular in-situ concrete, which is finely board-shuttered on the two lower floors’ services core. In layout, this main service and circulation core sits central to the length of the floorplates, but is mimimised in area and brought hard up against the western façade. This ensures maximum freedom of arrangement for open lettable space, while reducing solar gain to the office floors, with each level designed to be easily divided up between four tenants per floor. 

The columns and floorplates, expressed as a thick grid on the façade, offer the opportunity for further subdivision of floors, potentially shared by smaller start-ups or co-working spaces. Importantly, floor to ceiling heights are a generous 3.5m, enabled by slim pre-tensioned slabs, and topped and tailed by a 450mm floor void and notional 500mm ceiling void. These allow for a choice of three different servicing patterns and strategies for each tenant: using raised access floors or ceiling-mounted systems, as well as space to fit extra ventilation. Glazed corners to the main floorplates provide small accents, freeing up their orthogonals. Externally they give a poise to the building from the second floor up, below which the corners are chamfered off to ease passage around the building at street level.

The off-centre non-aligned entrance doors to east and west create a diagonal public cut-through in the building, off which a long ramp drops to the basement, while an open-plan café, designed to be a communal workspace, balances with a compartmentalised restaurant concession. A helical stairwell drops down to showers and a gym, over which the entrance diagonal reads as a bridge. Also above this, the first floor slab is cut, hollowing out a three-storey void

XYZ uses concrete for its inherent thermal, fire, acoustic and structural qualities and provides a distinctive raw, industrial self-finish. This was the client’s first concrete building in Spinningfields, and XYZ was challenged to experiment with different techniques, methods of construction and finishes. The exposed concrete frame required careful coordination and is left exposed wherever possible. Silver anodised aluminium, whitewashed oak linings and monochromatic finishes make up a modest palette of materials used throughout.

The use of post-tensioned slabs to upper floor plates allowed large open-plan spans, minimising internal columns. To accommodate transfer structures at various levels, discrete upstand beams contained within the raised access floor maintained a flush slab soffit to the floor below. Vertical riser distribution for services integration into the structural core wall configuration minimised intrusion into lettable space. 


  • Begun: Jul 2014
  • Completed: Oct 2016
  • Floor area: 22,040m2
  • Sector: Office
  • Total cost: £28M
  • Procurement: Single stage Design and Build on a negotiated contract sum. JCT D+B 2011 Contract with client amendments
  • CO2 Emissions: 17.2kg/m2/year
  • Address: Hardman Boulevard, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3AZ, United Kingdom

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