The Hive Manchester

Client. Argent Group
Location. Manchester
Value & Size. £11.5 million / 110,000 sqft
Services. Architecture / Interiors
Status. Completed

The Hive Manchester

Client. Argent Group
Location. Manchester
Value & Size. £11.5 million / 110,000 sqft
Services. Architecture / Interiors
Status. Completed

The Hive is an exemplar sustainable speculative development, demonstrating that those in the property business are also in the energy business. In 2005 Argent Estates invited us to undertake a feasibility study for three sites adjacent to Stevenson Square, Manchester.

The initial commission was to provide a development framework which was agreeable to Manchester City Council and adjacent land owners. This soon developed into masterplanning the site and the design and delivery of the largest building on the site, The Hive. The building completed in 2009 and has acted as a catalyst for the subsequent regeneration of the neighbouring Stevenson Square.

The Hive is a pioneering building, providing speculative office space aimed at the creative industries. The building is not a corporate headquarters. It is a simple, kick-able, flexible building which immerses itself in the home of the creative industries in the North West of the UK – The Northern Quarter. Office rental levels are lower in The Northern Quarter than in other city centre locations in Manchester and therefore the build cost needed to be lower in response.

The sustainable agenda evolved from a thorough understanding of the commercial limitations of the project and transforming these into the building’s greatest asset. The simplest way of making a building cheaper is to make it smaller. However we could not make the building smaller in plan because the plan drives value.

  • We made the building smaller in section by omitting the M+E zone and the ceiling.
  • Exposed concrete slabs within the office areas utilise the radiant cooling of raw concrete.
  • Introducing narrow floorplates aids natural ventilation of the office space.
  • Finally, in order to mitigate excessive solar gain, we created a solid façade with 40% openings to maximise daylight penetration internally whilst reducing capital costs.

Post Occupancy Studies
A post occupancy study commenced with the University of Reading in 2015/16. This year long research measured the internal office environment over a short period of weeks, during summer, winter, spring and autumn. Using wearables, we picked staff members to be measured on how they responded to the internal environment during each period. We undertook an online survey with all staff. As a result of the survey/study, additional training was provided covering the window opening system, to reduce unacceptable CO2 levels.

Assessment were conducted to increase the number of temperature sensors and provide on floor controls to the night time ventilation louvres. Additional CO2/particulate sensors were sourced and installed in early 2018. New set points were decided for the louvres – building management has access to ‘dashboard’ and are monitoring the new controls over the next 12 months. We presented the work internally and externally to promote awareness of the importance of CO2, as well as temperature, in the design of naturally ventilated buildings. With this work informing the new BCO guide to specification 2019. We have installed acoustic panels to improve internal noise levels.

The greatest success has involved working with our own staff, along with a diverse range of partners, to analyse the building and effect of the changes which have a positive influence on project staff and occupiers of buildings we have designed since.

In design terms, creating occupier confidence in a naturally ventilated office was also a test, but was overcome as demonstrated by its full occupancy.

Project Team
Quantity Surveyor. Faithful+Gould
M&E Engineer. NPS Group
Structural Engineer. Alan Johnston Partnership
Contractor. Bardsley Construction
Developer. Argent Group
Agent. Colliers International UK
Photography. Adrian Lambert

Concept Sketch
Ground Floor Plan
Fourth Floor Plan

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