Key Details

In Numbers

  • Duration: Two years
  • Value: £7m
  • Size: 50,000 sq. ft
  • Practical completion date: Summer 2022

The Collaborators

  • Building owner: Federated Hermes
  • Project manager: Venture, Workman Project Management
  • Architect: Sheppard Robson
  • Construction: Russell WHBO
  • Occupiers: Access Creative College

Project Introduction

Status: Live

A cultural hub in the 1960s, Manchester’s New Century Hall played host to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Bee-Gees, and Tina Turner. Now the Grade II-Listed building is undergoing redevelopment as part of a huge £7m scheme of wider NOMA regeneration. The scheme will create a multi-functional cultural hub with a creative college for 400 students, 1000-capacity concert space and 8000 sq. ft food hall with access to public square and event space Sadler’s Yard. The transformation is expected to help Manchester further establish its arts and culture credentials, with the potential to attract and retain some of the UK’s best young talent.

Project Update

Aug 19, 2021

Restructure for new talent

The Venture team’s first step was to collaborate with the tenant to work out how they wanted the space to operate. The aim was to marry those goals with how the building is currently designed, and how it would need to change.

The team devised a strategy to redevelop the building so that it would not only meet the needs of the new occupiers, but also keep within the Grade II Listing rules, and satisfy the requirements of the Local Authority. The key was to bring modernity to an old historic building without it having an obvious or detrimental impact on the cultural and historic value of the asset.

The collection of CIS buildings were linked by basement tunnels, and New Century Hall was joined to New Century House, the adjacent residential tower block. These buildings were separated, and the associated shared services also had to be separated, which meant removal of redundant plant. In addition, a linkway was created from Miller Street to Sadler’s Yard.

Project Update

Sep 23, 2021

Renovators of the lost art

When originally designed by Sir John Burnet, Tait & Partners, along with George S. Hay of the CWS; New Century Hall was packed with artisanal features, many of which were later covered by CIS. Several of these were believed to be lost, and were recorded as such in the building’s listing, but have since been revealed and restored during the renovation project. For example, a frieze by renowned artist and interior designer Sheila Bird, which had been covered by CIS, only to be revealed by architects Shepard Robson – Architect during refurbishment work.

An African hardwood (a.k.a. muhuhu) sprung dancefloor, had been hidden under a carpet covering, and side walls panelled with pearwood, which is grooved and slatted for an acoustic profile and acts as a bass resonator, have also been polished and restored by specialists.

The ceiling is composed of a grid from which prism-shaped, aluminium-sheet resonators filled with cork are suspended; these also reflect light from lamps set into the spaces between the reflectors. Top-lit ceiling panels also run down each side of the hall. Through intensive redevelopment work, these have been brought back into full gleaming use with LEDs that can change colour and brightness at the flick of a switch.

The hall interior features two large, sculptured panels by artist Stephen Sykes depicting musicians, whilst an abstract, concrete sculptural screen wall by John McCarthy provides a dramatic focal point within the entrance piazza. There is also a curved, pre-cast concrete mural by Alan Boyson on a wall facing the foot of the escalators, plus a ceramic inset top for the first-floor bar which was thought lost but had simply been concealed behind a stud partition put in place by CIS.

The Venture project team had originally planned for these artworks to be removed from site for specialist restoration before replacement within their original settings. However, when insurance became unviable, it was decided that the murals should be protected and restored in situ.

At each stage of the project, the Venture team identified and collaborated with specialists in their field to revive New Century Hall to its former glory as a buzzing music venue.

Project Update

Oct 20, 2021

Fire and water: it’s elemental

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Venture team was the integration of modern services and performance into an older building. An example of this was the introduction of modern fire strategy, especially in the basement levels. Smoke extraction ventilation and sprinklers have been installed throughout the building.

This required project management that would not only meet the safety requirements of the new occupiers and the Local Authority, but would also be acceptable to listed building authority Historic England.

Working with concrete floors also meant that drainage needed to be considered at the earliest stage of the project, particularly for the food hall. This meant identifying very early on in the project what could be adapted and what could not. The new occupier will then be provided with the parameters for drainage points for the individual food hall vendors’ fit-out processes.

Project Update

Nov 16, 2022

On the face of it

Like its neighbouring sister building, the CIS Tower, New Century Hall was constructed with carefully selected external materials, such as black vitreous enamelled-steel panels and anodised aluminium mullions, which were specifically chosen to withstand air pollution.

The buildings’ exterior glazed cladding is another recognisable feature, and in keeping with the 1960s design of the property, which appeals to its new occupiers. The Venture team’s original plan was to carry out localised repairs to the exterior, but the team discovered that fixings were damaged.

Instead of having to replace the entire exterior, the team found a novel way of keeping the façade. The famous glazed cladding was saved; it could be renovated, then stabilised and fixed securely back into place.

Project Update

Dec 20, 2021

Age not a barrier to environmental credentials

The development at New Century Hall, project managed by Workman’s Venture team is on course to attain a BREEAM certification of “Good” or “Very Good”.

To achieve this level of certification in a building that still retains the thermal standards of 60 years ago when it was constructed is quite a feat. However, it was one of the first large commercial buildings in England to be air-conditioned, and as part of the refurbishment, a cycle hub has been installed in the basement to encourage active commuting.

Project Update

Feb 28, 2022

Iconic New Century Hall revitalised to deliver fresh talent

Constructed 1959-1963 by the Co-Operative Insurance Society (CIS) and used as the company’s headquarters, the Grade II-Listed New Century Hall is interwoven with Manchester’s rich cultural heritage. The building, unused since 2013, forms an integral part of the NOMA redevelopment, a 20-acre masterplan creating new homes, offices, hotels, shops, restaurants and bars around vibrant urban spaces and public realm. NOMA is an innovative, commercially driven and responsibly designed neighbourhood designed to embrace Manchester’s rich heritage, keeping people and community at its heart.

The redevelopment of New Century Hall, project managed by Venture, focuses on the sensitive restoration of the Grade II-Listed buildings, as part of a business plan that required cutting-edge space for a variety of uses. The project team was tasked with leading the reconfiguration of the space to suit the new occupiers, Access Creative, a college for 400 students, a 1000-capacity concert space and 8000 sq. ft food hall with access to public square and event space, Sadler’s Yard.

This is a unique and complex repurposing project that must balance the needs of the client’s business plan with the constraints of the buildings. Today, the culturally historic nature of the asset is driving demand, rather than the specification, proving that we should never overlook the human factor.

To take a 1960s listed building and create something that can accommodate a variety of modern uses has meant working with multiple specialists and stakeholders with multifaceted needs. The transformation of this listed building meant balancing modern standards with heritage sensitivities. It has required highly complex project management strategies, and a close relationship with all parties.