Circle Square on the Stand


Planit-IE was delighted to be invited by Bruntwood and Select Property Group to join their Circle Square presentation and discussion panel in association with the RIBA on the Manchester Stand at MIPIM today.

Our joint Managing Partner, Ed Lister, joined Chris Oglesby of Bruntwood, Ken Knott of Select Property Group and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ Partner Keith Bradley.  Alongside Bruce Katz of the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution – a world leader on the development and growth of Innovation Districts -, the panel was chaired by Stephen Hodder of Hodder + Partners, immediate past President of the RIBA.

Whilst Ed was characteristically calm and collected (on the surface!), the team back in the UK was far from cool as he took to the stand. The studios emptied and we crowded round the big screen to hear the presentation, accompanied by stacks of coffee and croissants, for #MIPIMInTheKitchen.

Planit’s inclusion within the stand presentation is a big deal; an important milestone for the practice. Over the years, we have worked as designers on numerous high profile projects across the city that have featured within Manchester at MIPIM stand talks, and Virtual Planit have prepared CGIs and animations specifically for the conference. We have been appreciative of the occasional name check, but this marks a whole new level in recognition of the contribution our work is making to future our home city.

Last year at MIPIM Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive of Bruntwood, announced their purchase of the Former BBC Site, which is located within the City’s emerging Innovation District, Corridor Manchester. Phase 1 of this strategic site, now known as Circle Square, has received approval and the planning application for phase 2 has been submitted. Evolving proposals seek to create a curious and collaborative mix of uses, resulting in a place that fosters innovation, in support of Corridor Manchester’s wider vision.

Circle Square will be a commercial location for a diverse range of businesses that seek advancement through collaboration, with a high quality residential offer that encourages those who study and work within the Corridor to live there too. The scheme seeks to redress the surrounding lack of spaces where people can converge to create together, learn together and work together.

Designed to promote collaboration, but also delivered through collaboration, the development is being realised via a joint-venture partnership between commercially-focused Bruntwood and residential specialist Select Property Group. The strength of both organisations lies in their shared focus on people, and their client’s experience.

So what makes a great place?

Ed Lister outlined the key ingredients – people, location, activity, cultural richness, microclimate and human-scale – combined within the mix to create a diverse and thriving new community. Planit’s urban design approach looked to the past to reintroduce the city grain, reconnecting the site back into the city through fluid linkages, all focused around a key central green space at its epicenter. This spaces forms a destination and address whilst providing a canvas for opportunity that brings people together.

The central ‘green’ is a flexible external area for social integration, recreation and events throughout the seasons, set above a multi-functional subterranean space. Keith Bradley described how two access pavilions are integrated within the green, leading down to this unique community space. Back at ground level, break out zones and more intimate niches are created through a series of smaller-scale peripheral spaces, whilst routes through the site are focused on people-movement; consigning the private car to the edges of the plot.

Bruce Katz was invited to consider the proposals, concluding that Manchester has all the ingredients, in the Corridor, for a globally significant Innovation District. In terms of critical mass, density of anchor institutions, quality of place, diversity of people and firms, alongside a culture of collaboration; Manchester is in his words “hitting it out of the park”.

Katz wanted to know from the panel, what was this area of the city’s competitive advantage; its selling point, particularly from an economic perspective? The panel’s response: World-class life sciences, work with advanced materials such as Graphene, but perhaps most importantly Manchester’s attitude. Manchester is highly ambitious and equally grounded in reality, as is Circle Square. In designing this development, the team has looked across the globe for inspiration, but also to the city’s past, its grain and innovative roots from the industrial revolution.

The culture of collaboration permeates through the design process and the team Bruntwood and Select have assembled. Alongside FCBS, the project team includes 5plus Architects, Curtins Consulting Engineers and most recently Hawkins\Brown.

We would like to thank Bruntwood and Select Property Group for inviting us to take part in the Manchester at MIPIM stand talk, on behalf of the City Council and backed by the RIBA. More so than ever, we are proud to represent and promote our home city in an international context at MIPIM.

The full presentation and panel discussion can be viewed at: Manchester at MIPIM RIBA session – Circle Square