Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio has transformed a canal-side listed mill building into 31 loft apartments that reflect the building’s history
RIBA North West Award 2023
RIBA North West 2023 Conservation Award
Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio for Urban Splash (Brownsfield Mill)
Contract value: £7 million
Cost per m2: £1,550
Located on the Rochdale Canal in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Avro, designed by Stephenson Hamilton Risley, provides 31 traditional, canal-side loft apartments in the former Brownsfield Mill. The Grade II listed mill building, constructed in 1825, features Manchester’s oldest surviving mill chimney. The scheme takes its name from the Avro biplanes that were once constructed in the building.
Each apartment reflects the building’s history, with exposed mill boards – thick timber planks spanning between main beams without joists – and salvaged materials used throughout.
Carefully considered interventions have been used such as overcladding the historic winding stairs, deformed over time, with a safe and uniform modern stair. These new walkways lead residents from the entrance lobby to the communal garden, and on to walking routes to the city centre and stations via canal towpath. The new elements, such as the communal garden space and escape stairs which sit prominently on the façade, have been carefully crafted to complement the existing, listed elements.
The approach and attention to detail has delivered a high-end residential complex, allowing the charming, warm-toned original industrial features to shine through. These are accented by the modern industrial-influenced elements made in materials that are high-end but inspired by the building’s heritage: entrance doors in matt-lacquered oak, new windows in W20 section steel, engineered oak flooring, plasterboard walls, black powder-coated steel framing to kitchen and bathroom units, solid stone worktops, and blackened steel-faced entrance doors and stairs. The most striking thing the jury noticed when entering the apartments was the acoustics of the space, which gave it a feeling of calm and quiet.
Client Urban Splash (Brownsfield Mill)
Contractor Urban Splash Construct
Environmental/M&E engineer Max Fordham
Structural engineer Civic Engineers
Project management Turner & Townsend
Landscape architect Reform Landscape
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RIBA Regional Awards 2023 sponsored by Gaggenau, EH Smith and Autodesk