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Crusader Works, Manchester

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

2024 RIBA North West Conservation Award goes to shedkm’s regenerated 1840s cotton-spinning mills into housing – a catalyst to regenerate the wider area

Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson

2024 RIBA North West Award
2024 RIBA North West Conservation Award

Crusader Works, Manchester
shedkm for Capital&Centric
Contract value: £10.8m
GIA: 10219m2
Cost per m2: £1,957

Crusader Works is the regeneration of a collection of cotton spinning mills from the 1840s, now transformed into new housing. It comprises a coherent set of three distinct listed buildings forming a courtyard. There are numerous similar mill and warehouse buildings in the north west of England, with elegant, robust masonry that speaks of the region’s significance during the industrial revolution. Standing out among many examples of conversions and renovations of these buildings, Crusader Works sets a real standard for others to follow. It is exemplary not only in the way the architect has conceived its layout and details, but also in terms of a developer’s idea to use the project as a catalyst for changing a wider, previously run-down urban area. The overall effect celebrates the existing buildings’ character and minimises invasive penetrations through historic structure, while introducing bold, contemporary circulation that creates a characterful courtyard space.

  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
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The success of this project is born out of the clarity of its diagram. By rejecting internal corridors and cores, all the units of varying sizes are double aspect. The beautiful rhythm of brick openings is cleverly used to create cloistered access walkways that link with bold lift and stair cores in the courtyard. Locating the freestanding cores outside the original buildings minimises the impact on historic fabric, while celebrating the journey from pavement to front door. This approach also ensures that all units have a direct connection to the shared courtyard. The new external walls of each apartment unit are set back from historic brick walls, allowing them to be insulated and to include some external absorption to mitigate the acoustic echo of masonry walls.

All the walkways overlook brilliantly landscaped, convivial outdoor spaces below. Service distribution is neat and unobtrusive, running through the floors of the walkways, using the old shafts as risers. Bin stores sit near the external lifts on each floor, rather than dominating the ground-floor streetscape.

  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
  • Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
    Crusader Works. Credit: Daniel Hopkinson
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The whole project is incredibly well conceived to prioritise community and quality, pushed forward by a developer with a clear idea for the broader regeneration of a previously deprived area. The cloistered walkway approach also maximises internal living space by almost completely eliminating internal circulation corridors. This demonstrates that great architecture can bring genuinely good value to everyone. The development forms part of a wider ongoing masterplan that includes creative workspace, shops and other community amenities. In this context, it is clear that Crusader Works has acted as a truly transformative catalyst for regeneration.

See the rest of the North West winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Capital&Centric
Structural engineer Arup
Services engineer Progressive Services Design

Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric
Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric
Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric
Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric
Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric
Credit: shedkm and Capital&Centric

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