Three Towers

Union North, Manchester, 2008


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Phase two of the Three Towers 

Paul McMullin (website)     Download Original

  • Phase two of the Three Towers    
  • View of three timber-clad towers    
  • Towers seen from train     
  • The contractor adopted mast climbing rigs more typically used for maintenance to make the construction process as efficient as possible    
  • The fine lines of silver birch helped inspire the character of landscape architect Gross.Max    
  • The communal lobbies are freely ventilated and daylit by glazed louvres    
  • On ground floor level are bold vinly prints    
  • Bold colours bring vibrancy to the upper floors    
  • Each kitchen has a decorative splashback     
  • The reconfigured kitchen/living/dining space incorporates space previously given over to an external balcony    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Typical floor plan    
  • Roof plan    
  • Elvevation    
  • Emmeline Existing Elevation    
  • Existing Emmeline Typical Plan    
  • Emmeline existing roof plan    

Reconfiguration and refurbishment creating 186 new homes out of three 1960’s council towers, in Manchester

The three towers of council flats, bought by developer Urban Splash were in need of serious investment that had been absent during a decade of dereliction.

Since the densities of the towers were in line with current targets, and the robust concrete frame provided an ideal starting point for a necessary upgrade, the decision was taken to simply reconfigure openings in the brick walls, infill balconies with SIPS (a structurally insulated panel system), and hang rainscreen on cladding rails that span from floor slab to floor slab.

The distinctive cladding composition addresses the buildings’ previously stumpy image and consciously avoids the ‘typical council job’, which traditionally applies pitched roofs, garish cladding, and crude vandal-proof detailing.

In plan each of the five flats have been improved, with the four corner units enveloping balconies to provide wider and more flexible kitchen/dining/living rooms, and with the central studio flat using space gained from the elimination a lift to provide a proper one-bedroom unit.


  • Begun: Jun 2005
  • Completed: Sep 2008
  • Floor area: 148,906m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £13.4M
  • Procurement: JCT MC98
  • CO2 Emissions: 48kg/m2/year
  • Address: Three Towers, Dalton Street, Collyhurst, Manchester, M40 7EB, United Kingdom

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