Over recent years, the regeneration and renewal of our city centres has gathered pace. In particular, the outdated view that commercial buildings of the Victorian era are obstacles to urban renewal no longer exists.

Instead, developers, investors and business owners are now realising the potential of these properties and valuing how their original and historical features, can be utilised as assets to create inspiring, unique and modern environments.

We’re lucky that our home city is bursting with beautiful heritage buildings. As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester has a fascinating industrial history. Victorian-era buildings, usually seven or eight stories high with imposing façades, dominate areas of the city centre, while cotton mill complexes and warehouses survive on the fringes, many of which present exciting opportunities to be returned to their former glory.

Hidden treasure

Although many walk past them every day, unless you are a historian or appreciate architecture most people rarely look up at these wonderful statements past the first story. If we could put walkways a storey higher around the city, everyone would have a different perceptive of the structure of this amazing city. You wouldn’t see an abundance of shop-fronts and cafes but instead, intricate modern, contemporary, Georgian, Roman and Gothic architecture.

Recently, ADT Workplace has had the opportunity to refurbish over 500,000 sq.ft of these buildings, including some of arguably the most architecturally monumental. We are not historians, we are a team who loves to work on quirky, individual buildings, each of which has its own unique story to tell, and who thrive off the challenge of converting these listed heritage sites into high-tech office spaces, fit for today’s modern businesses.

Bringing the Victorian era into the 21st Century

These buildings tend to have distinctive character, typically with open floor plates, high ceilings and plenty of natural light, making them ideal for a contemporary office. That said, working with heritage assets is not without its challenges, so specialist knowledge is required to ensure the planning and refurbishment is carried out appropriately in order to protect the building’s original and listed features.

Our work with these buildings is very much centred around restoring and enhancing their original features, rather than disguising them. In the whole 500,000 sq.ft of refurbished workspace there is not a ceiling grid or ceiling tile to be seen, exposed brickwork and beams are in abundance, and every unique building displays its individual heritage. All have exposed services and the stunning quirks of the buildings are incorporated into the design, not hidden away as they have been for decades before, creating authentic buildings which strike the perfect balance between old and new.

Our clients include some of Manchester’s fastest growing tech and professional services companies, who are now benefiting from a modern and intelligent workplace which enables them to not only improve business efficiencies but also attract and retain the very best talent.

We have had the privilege to work alongside high profile architects and designers, developers, landlords and professional teams whilst delivering these projects. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look back at some of our most recent work on these beautiful buildings in the heart of Manchester, that our team has been lucky enough to redevelop for commercial use, including The Royal Exchange, 35 Dale Street, The Tootal Buildings and Stubbs Mill. Enjoy!