The Oglesby Centre at Hallé St Peter’s wins the Cultural Project prize at the 2021 AJ Architecture Awards

23rd November 2021

By stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO, this extension to the deconsecrated Grade II-listed St Peter’s Church in the industrial Ancoats district of Manchester balances budget, quality and public realm.

Providing rehearsal, performance, education and ancillary spaces for the prestigious Hallé orchestra and choir, the scheme is complemented by a café space addressing Cutting Room Square’s public realm with ‘clear vitality’.

Praised for presenting a coherent message, one judge said of the scheme: ‘It legitimises a lot of what the future of architecture is: re-use, activating public realm, community engagement and flexibility in all of its spaces.’

The new extension is formed of a solid plinth of hand-made Roman format bricks. The first-floor main rehearsal space is expressed as a weathering steel box with articulated fins, using a ‘box-in-box’ acoustically isolated construction.

Its relationship to the existing building was commended by the judges, in particular the architects’ detailing of sensitive circulation connections to create level access. ‘It’s a friend to the existing but also different,’ said one judge. ‘It has been delivered with so much thought and detail,’ commented another.

Overall, the judges felt this was a ‘busy and happy building’. ‘There’s a palpable energy to the extension,’ they said.