The Rylands Building

The Rylands Building

The mission of this ambitious project is to create a listed building with net zero carbon status.

A prominent 1929 Grade II-listed empty department store building in Manchester, until recently home to Debenhams, will be converted into an office-led mixed-use development. The proposal includes 70,000ft2 of retail and leisure space on the ground floor, including a retail arcade accessed from High Street, and 258,000ft2 of office space on the upper three floors. Plans also include a four-storey rooftop extension featuring a further 40,000ft2 of offices, and a winter garden on the sixth floor. Part of the building will be demolished to create an atrium, providing natural light across the second to seventh floors.

Working alongside Jeffrey Bell Architects, we are providing M&E Engineering, Net Zero Carbon services and Sustainability Consultancy for the scheme.

To reduce energy consumption significantly, a fabric first approach has been chosen, using existing fabric wherever possible. This also considers the heritage nature of the Rylands Building. We have carried out moisture modelling and fabric analysis to achieve an enhanced performance of the listed facades with internal insulation. The roof will be insulated, and the windows will be high performance Crittall windows to match the existing 1930's system.

The building will be future-proofed to access the national benefit of the decarbonising grid and to support the Manchester Zero-Carbon Action Plan. Improved glazing, internal lining of walls and an insulated roof will reduce energy demand. Electrical systems will be prioritized to make a natural gas connection redundant. Steel framing in the new extension will be standardised to allow dismantling, enabling future adaptation of space and a reuse at the end of life.

"It's exciting to be involved with the regeneration of such a well-known Manchester landmark - particularly as reducing the energy use of existing buildings will be key if the UK is to meet its target of net zero by 2050. The work we're carrying out on the Rylands Building can provide an important example of how to minimise the operational energy use of large, historic buildings without impacting their heritage." - Conor Haselden, Engineer and Partner at Max Fordham 

MEP services will be designed in a flexible way to minimise equipment redundancy throughout replacement or removal by future tenants during their fit-out. 

We are carrying out an operational and embodied carbon analysis, as well as Circular Economy assessments for the strip-out and any new materials installed. The entire design team are engaged with the embodied carbon analysis. The operational energy strategy is based on electrification with air source heat pumps for heating and cooling, and a mixed mode ventilation system, maximising ‘free-running’ periods during the year when heating and cooling are not required. 

Photovoltaic panels will be installed on the rooftop to produce renewable energy for the Rylands Building.

To increase visibility and enhance carbon literacy, tenants will pay for their energy consumption and offsetting of operational carbon.


Jeffrey Bell Architects






CD9 Properties Manchester

(c) Jeffrey Bell Architects Info
A central atrium will be created to improve daylighting levels across all floors and allow the stack effect to be utilised, which boosts natural ventilation flow rates and reduces the need for mechanical ventilation and cooling.
(c) Jeffrey Bell Architects Info
The existing building is very compact in form, with an extremely low surface area to volume ratio. With the proposed improvements to insulation and airtightness, this means that heating demand can be reduced to exceptionally low levels.
(c) Jeffrey Bell Architects Info
The original single-glazed Crittall Universal windows will be replaced with matching double-glazed units provided by Crittall themselves, which will significantly reduce heating demand and improve thermal comfort for occupants.
(c) Jeffrey Bell Architects Info
The new rooftop extension will have excellent fabric performance and also make use of a mixed mode ventilation strategy. An array of reversible air source heat pumps located at roof level will provide heating and cooling to the entire building at very high efficiencies.