Manchester’s new HOME

HOME, Manchester’s new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film recently celebrated its HOMEwarming weekend. It brings an exciting new arts experience to the city which is fast becoming a ‘must visit’ name on top ten cities lists across the UK and globally. It houses theatres, cinemas and galleries alongside places to relax, eat and drink, providing a dynamic destination for Manchester’s residents and visitors alike. HOME also encompasses learning spaces and its initiatives will support emerging talent to ensure the city’s rich creative legacy stays alive.

Putting the visitor at the heart of HOME, Buro Happold provided multidisciplinary engineering solutions on the project from the ground up, including specialists on acoustics, energy and sustainability and people flow, who together have engineered spaces to create a dynamic venue.  Mark Phillip, partner at Buro Happold explains why it was so exciting to be involved in this project, “HOME provides a fantastic new cultural hub for Manchester’s community and through the building’s design this vision has really been brought to life.”

Working with the client and Mecanoo, the architect, on this complex building on a confined site in the city, Buro Happold’s team had to consider a number of different approaches to ensure the brief could be realised. The building is situated on what was previously an open car park, with a bordering railway viaduct. This existing viaduct, combined with the busy Whitworth Street West main road located nearby, provided particular challenges for the Buro Happold acoustics team, such as potential ground-borne vibration impact on the structure itself and compromised acoustic performance within the artistic spaces. The team provided onsite testing during construction and prior to opening to ensure optimal performance of the cinemas and performance spaces, with the engineers utilising some of the most advanced room acoustic measurement techniques available to test and verify the challenging acoustic design required.

Mark Phillip explains more about some of the technology used to inform the design. “How people interact and move around a venue like HOME is vital to ensure that the space works seamlessly and efficiently. To provide both an exceptional experience for visitors and a high level of safety, we used people flow modelling to establish visitor arrival and departure movements for key scenarios, identifying any areas that could be at risk of overcrowding, and analysing the bar and foyer space during busy interval periods. The conclusions enabled us to provide advice to the client on design of circulation elements, timing and coordination of different events in the space, use of the bar area and the location of ticket booths and temporary facilities. We are proud to be involved with such a great project in the city.”

The doors to HOME were officially opened by Danny Boyle on 21 May 2015, kickstarting a  weekend jam-packed with events, art, theatre, film and music.

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