Hallé St Peter's, Ancoats
Hallé St Peter's stands in the centre of the Ancoats Urban Village in central Manchester and is an important architectural and social landmark in the area. The recent redevelopment has restored the building to its former glory and created a light, airy and beautiful space; ideal for rehearsing, performing, teaching and recording.
The building, a deconsecrated church, was built in 1859 by Isaac Holden, founder chairman of the Manchester Society of Architects and became Grade II listed in 1989 as part of the designation of the Ancoats Conservation Area. It was abandoned in the early 1990s and had stood empty for decades - until Hallé, an English symphony orchestra based in Manchester, acquired St Peter’s.
The brief was to provide a large rehearsal space for the Orchestra and Children's Choir and smaller practice rooms, as well as a new entrance onto Cutting Room Square and a café. The rehearsal space and practice rooms had to be of a high acoustic performance with no openable windows.
Moreover, the redevelopment project included the construction of a new extension to the church, which has been named 'The Oglesby Centre' after the late Michael Oglesby, a local businessman, philanthropist and a key financial contributor to the project.
High-efficiency M&E services were incorporated throughout as local planning policy required the project to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good’. A key challenge was providing appropriate building services to a range of spaces with different uses. Having no openable windows, practice rooms and the rehearsal space required mechanical ventilation with both heating and cooling. The relatively small footprint of the building and the steel construction made services coordination challenging. This was especially true in the performance spaces where ductwork sizes need to be very large to ensure air velocities are low enough not to hamper the excellent acoustics required.
For the extension, the centrepiece is the principal performance space - housed in a corten steel box with finned, riveted panels. Inside, timber-slatted walls, high-efficiency architectural lighting and hidden services provide beautiful aesthetics. The space is ventilated, heated and cooled via a dedicated air handling unit with low level displacement outlets hidden behind the timber slats. Smaller practice rooms are box-in-box construction and are environmentally controlled using VRF fan coil units. These units are located in an adjacent corridor to ensure breakout noise from the fan is minimised. Underfloor heating is provided in circulation spaces via an air source heat pump.
A combination of "well-judged materials, technical expertise and bespoke detailing [has created] a solid and confident facility for the city’s famous orchestra" - Fran Williams, Architects' Journal