Budenberg Haus, Urban Splash

The Budenberg development in Altrincham, ten kilometres south of Manchester, injects a new style of contemporary, city centre apartment living into an area of the town characterised by Victorian terraced housing. Redeveloping the brown-field site of a former pressure gauge factory, the scheme integrates existing industrial buildings with new construction, in the form of two parallel Budenberg Haus blocks. In profile, the buildings step up from three to seven storeys, mediating between the low-rise houses of adjacent Woodfield Road and the larger-scale industrial units to the north. Their form also makes the most of the location beside the Bridgewater Canal, one of the oldest in Britain, cantilevering over its southern bank like the prow of a boat to maximise the number of apartments with views of the water and gardens.

Each building is divided into two volumes by a tall, narrow entrance courtyard, crossed by a bright red open stair, with a glazed lift and sheltered entrance galleries. The 215 apartments vary in size and layout, from two and three-bedroom penthouses at the top of the building to tall, one-storey flats in the rounded ends of each block. Ground floor apartments are spread over a single level to allow easy access for residents with impaired mobility. The arrangement of the compact one-bedroom apartment type exploits voids in the stepped profile to create one-and-a-half storey living areas with full-height glazing. Maximising internal space, the split-level apartments are arranged one on top of the other and are entered via a mid-level access gallery. Exposed precast concrete ceilings echo the industrial aesthetic of the wider scheme and provide thermal mass. In addition, a central Combined Heat and Power plant – one of the first such applications in a private housing development in the UK – produces more than half of the energy required by the two blocks and the retained Budenberg building.

Long balconies wrap around the building, sheltered by the projecting floors above and the staggered roof level creates a sequence of generous south-facing terraces, which extend towards Woodfield Road to give the impression of a green stair. Parking is placed below ground to create space for a large communal garden, landscaped with mounds, trees and seating areas and enclosed by the canal to the north and converted factory to the south.

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