Corn Exchange, Manchester
Connecting a heritage asset back to the city


Location: Manchester
Size: 100,000 sqft Leisure Floor Space
Value: £12 million
Phase I Completion 2015
Phase II 2014 - Ongoing
Service: Architecture

Adrian Lambert
Simon Buckley

2016 AJ Retrofit, Shortlisted
2015 BCSC Gold, Winner

Adrian Lambert

We worked with Aviva and development managers, Queensberry Real Estate, to develop a revised vision for the Corn Exchange to operate as a dining destination.

The scheme allows the Corn Exchange to trade from the external frontages as originally intended and connect the building back to the adjacent streets. This reverses the early 90’s work undertaken to create a shopping mall that relied on operating from the inside only.

Phase I
The building suffered significant internal damage in the IRA bomb of 1996. The structure of the internal atrium and the original trading floor has been reinstated. New column heads, concealed displacement vents, yorkstone flooring and signature gates are introduced to bring life and texture back to the building.

The central atrium, with the magnificent glazed dome has become a covered external dining area for the restaurants. At first floor the restaurants trade up to the column line that runs around the atrium, allowing diners to occupy the space around the perimeter of the atrium.

A connection between Exchange Square to Cathedral Gardens has been retained, albeit in a revised format to feel like an incidental route, to allow the building to become more integrated with the public realm and knit back into the city.

In order to achieve active frontage on the North side of the building – two frameless glazed boxes have been created. External seating to all sides further animates the frontages. The interior of the atrium has been refurbished to provide a high quality, welcoming environment for the operators.

Phase II
The Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Floors have been converted from commercial offices into a 114 bedroom aparthotel for the hotel operator Roomzzz. Four aparthotel room types have been established that respond to the existing unconventional floorplate and the structural constraints inherent in a building of this age that has been extensively modified over the years.

The room types range from compact, en-suite double bedrooms through to dual aspect penthouse apartments. Ancillary to the hotel bedrooms, additional facilities for hotel guests include a gymnasium, management suite and the hotel lobby/reception with breakfast service and a lounge area accessible from the building’s central atrium.

The interiors scheme responds to and complements the Grade II listed building, whilst also meeting the aspirations of the hotel operator.

Working with Roomzzz to develop a tailored ‘Design Manual’, the hotel operator’s brand identity and established aesthetic has been adapted to work with and complement the original heritage features of the building. Features such as glazed Victorian wall tiles, terrazzo flooring, decorative wrought iron railing and mahogany balustrades have been retained, sensitively refurbished and reintroduced into the design to create a unique aparthotel offer.