Library specialist Schmidt Hammer Larsen also working on plans for 13-storey “front door” of university’s city centre campus

Hawkins Brown MMU library 1

Hawkins Brown’s 13-storey library for Manchester Metropolitan University is set to be approved this week

Manchester council has approved plans by Hawkins Brown for a £90m library designed for Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The 13-storey scheme will see the partial demolition of the university’s existing All Saints Library and the construction of a low-carbon replacement containing just over 22,000sq m of floorspace.

MMU director of estates, facilities and capital development Andrew Fallon said the new Library will be a “striking addition to our estate and the Oxford Road skyline, serving as an iconic All Saints architectural gateway to our University.”

“Once built, it will provide a vibrant learning, research, and collaboration hub, empowering our University community and fostering creativity and engagement for future generations,” he said. 

Library specialist Schmidt Hammer Larsen is working with Hawkins Brown on the plans, with Turner & Townsend on board as project manager alongside planning consultant Deloitte and cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald.

Planit IE is also on the team as landscape architect, and Buro Happold has multiple roles including structural and civil engineer, facade engineer, MEP engineer, fire engineer and transport consultant.

Located on a 0.67ha site in the south of the city centre, close to Bruntwood SciTech’s £850m Circle Square development, the scheme is aiming to be a centre piece and a “front door” for the university’s Oxford Road campus.

It has been designed to have a “highly distinctive” silhouette with a ‘ribbon’ on its facade featuring a pattern of brightly coloured circular windows, according to Hawkins Brown.

The practice said in planning documents that the design “speaks to Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester with an openness, inclusiveness, and a certain amount of swagger.”

The building will house around 3,800 study seats, a range of event spaces, bookable rooms, a prayer facility, wellbeing spaces, office space for library staff and 9,000 “linear metres” of books.

Its ground floor will also include a separate poetry library, a gallery, an innovation lab, a cafe, and a learning centre.

The 1970s All Saints Library and neighbouring All Saints Building would be cut in two under the plans, with the latter to be totally demolished and the former to be stripped back to its core and covered with a new facade.

Only two objections from members of the public were received, and while the council said the plans would cause a low level of less than substantial harm to nearby listed buildings, it said this would be outweighed by the scheme’s benefits.

“The design would be high quality and would promote a quality neighbourhood, economic development and sustainable travel patterns,” the planning officers said.