Former Station Undercroft To Be Transformed in Luxury Tower Plan

A former station undercroft characterised by a series of listed brick arches is to be turned into a new luxury development, linked to an adjacent residential skyscraper in central Manchester.

Developer Salboy has unveiled details of its plan for the Viadux Tower, which will use space under the old Manchester Central Station.

The station was redeveloped as an exhibition and conference centre, formerly known as the G-Mex and now Manchester Central after the old station moniker, with events including major political party conferences. The area under the Grade-II listed arches has mostly been used for parking, except those facing the canal at Deansgate Locks, which have been developed as pubs and bars.

However, the new facilities being established by Salboy will use some of this space and include a lobby for residents with an aquarium, a spa, swimming pool and bar.

To combine this with the 145 m (476 ft) skyscraper above, the scheme has involved major structural strengthening work.

No fewer than 273 separate foundation piles had to be dug due to the restricted underground working space, with these ranging from 12 to 15 metres in depth. The raft foundations were excavated through the removal of six thousand tonnes of earth, which was replaced by equal amounts of concrete in six separate pours. This is up to 3.6 metres deep.

Before this could even start, the site underwent an archaeological dig from a Salford University team, as the site is on the edge of the area settled by the Romans, who founded the city.

The next stage was the construction of twelve huge columns using 1,000 tonnes of reinforced steel bars of up to 50 mm in diameter to support the tower above, while 100 tonnes of structural steel have been put in place to provide temporary support for the arches. This will enable a hole to be cut through to the service yard above and enable a 145-metre tower crane to be installed.

Rob McLoughlin, the project manager of construction partner Domis Construction, said: “The preparations to reach this point have been both engineeringly and logistically challenging and we will be happy when we have successfully opened up the arches.”

Co-founder of Salboy’s Simon Ismail said: “We wanted to incorporate this historical element into the project and use them to create the most luxurious and unique facilities in the city.”

He continued: “We have all this architectural history underground while rising above will be spacious modern apartments, fitted to the latest and highest specification.”

Manchester is currently undergoing a huge boom in skyscraper construction, with Viadux joining a particularly tall array of buildings on the west side of the city centre.

It will be adjacent to the 554 ft Beetham Tower, which became the tallest building in the city in 2005 but has lost this title to the 659 ft South Tower at Deansgate Square.

However, the South Tower is set to have an even shorter reign as the loftiest building in the city, with the tallest of the planned new cluster of skyscrapers at Trinity Islands in Castlefield set to soar to 699 ft.