The former Unitarian Chapel on Upper Brook Street, Manchester, is a Grade II* listed chapel. It was built by Sir Charles Barry, an architect made famous for designing the Palace of Westminster.
Sadly, over time, the building had deteriorated and in 2006 it was partially demolished due to safety concerns. Since then, it has been listed on Historic England’s 'Heritage At Risk' register and has also been named as one of the most threatened historic buildings in the country by the Victorian Society.
Buttress was appointed by developer CZero to bring the chapel back into functional, sustainable use by providing quality, private residential apartments within its existing structures.
The redevelopment has involved the conversion of the building into 87 student units with the addition of a small new build element in the churchyard, along with a residents’ lounge, cinema room and gym which are contained within the former graveyard vaults.
The project has seen the chapel’s original form reinstated and, at every opportunity, surviving features of architectural and historic significance have been incorporated into the new design. The roof has been rebuilt to the original profile including the stone parapets, parapet walling and north-east stone gable. The number of penetrations in the roof has also been kept to a minimum to ensure that the building provides the same visual impact as it had done originally.
Due to the dilapidated state of the chapel’s interior, much of the internal features were past retention. However, some key elements were able to be saved. Surviving timber has been salvaged. Timbers from the old chapel balcony, for example, has been used to create a new front desk; the vaulted springers remain in-situ to become a feature within the rooms.
The finished project has both rescued a vulnerable heritage asset and created new accommodation for people looking for high-quality housing in a city centre location.