Planning granted to transform the iconic Kendals site into a high-quality office and retail development

4th June 2021

The Grade II listed Kendals building, a Deansgate landmark, will be transformed by a sensitive refurbishment and two-storey extension to provide 220,000sqft of active retail and Grade A office space. Additionally, the linked NCP multi-storey car park is to be replaced with a 275,000sqft building that includes office space and an active ground floor, connecting to a new piece of public realm on the closed Southgate Street.

Sheppard Robson and its interior design group ID:SR worked closely with the client ‘Investec’, Manchester City Council (MCC) and local stakeholders to transform this key site within the Parsonage Gardens Conservation Area and the broader Strategic Regeneration Framework, into 495,000ft2 of Grade A office and ground-floor retail space. Once complete, the refurbishment will give the iconic building a new lease of life and allow it to function as a future-proofed, modern, low-carbon office, whilst maintaining the historic ground floor retail.

At the heart of the project is a new high-quality public realm, with focused pedestrian spaces to Smithy Lane and Southgate, linking Spinningfields to the Cathedral Quarter, via Parsonage Gardens. The main office entrances to both buildings at the Southgate and King Street West junction create a new public node. Together with the proposed ground-floor retail and leisure units, this will form a new active part of the city centre.

The Art Deco building, completed in 1939, forms part of the Parsonage Gardens conservation area. Initially built as a department store, the structure is mostly unchanged from its original open-plan layout. Clad with Portland stone, vertical glass block panels and chamfered corners, MCC described the building as “a prime example of the Modern Movement in Manchester.”

Conversion to commercial office space will include retaining the historic plan form and traditional Art Deco features. Other works involve replacing several panels of obscured glass blocks, back of house areas to increase office nett area and improve viability, and a two-storey office extension to the roofscape. A new atrium will allow natural light to flood into the centre of a deep plan building, whilst the introduction of new lifts located in the atrium will enable the retention of the original, historic marble-tiled lift core.

The existing building steps back on the 6th floor to form a roof terrace area. Plans include a further step back to the new upper storeys, setting it back a similar distance from the existing facade. To the Southgate elevation, the new build element will be in line with the existing facade to allow for the continuation of the existing stairs and lifts, whilst the new office entrance will be formed on the south-west corner of the building to preserve the retail frontage and take advantage of the newly pedestrianised Southgate.

To the rear of Kendals, a new office building that consists of 12 upper storeys, providing 250,000ft2 of Grade A office accommodation and an active ground floor offering 15,000ft2 of retail and leisure space, will replace the existing 1960’s car park. The building will also have high-end amenities, including bicycle storage for over 200 bikes at lower ground level, while at roof level, terraces offer impressive views across Manchester.

In developing the facade concept of the new build office, Sheppard Robson took inspiration from the existing Kendals elevation, analysing the primary and secondary rhythms and proportions of the façade, while also taking influence from the V shape principal feature of the main vertical elements. The result is an interplay of solid and glass, creating a modern façade with a rhythm of dynamic faceted pilasters, creating a complimentary street elevation to the established Kendals’ building.

ID:SR’s interior theme is inspired by a modern-day interpretation of the ‘Roaring Twenties’, which brings the iconic smooth lines, geometric shapes and streamlined forms of the Art Deco era into a modern design style. The existing building will be celebrated and the new reinvented, creating two separate schemes which share the epitome of elegance, glamour and functionality. The refurbished ground floor will include retail, co-working space, lounge/waiting area, and concierge/check-in.

Sustainability is a key concept behind the design and development of the individual buildings, drawing on best practice from the UK, Europe and further afield. It will provide a high-quality workplace environment with comparatively low energy demands and targets BREEAM Excellent for the new office building and Very Good for the refurbishment of the Kendals. The project is also a model example of retrofit, improving the quality of space through well considered interventions while maximising the retention of the art deco building and its associated embodied carbon.

Both buildings will be inviting, inspiring, inclusive, collaborative and increase utilisation, ultimately future-proofing the buildings. The design of the retail units could merge with the reception areas in both buildings, enhancing the arrival experience and creating a vibrant multifunctional space with greater shared amenities for building users, visitors and the public alike.” Tony O’Brien, Project Partner at Sheppard Robson.