Manchester’s Sharp Project has been named as one of Britain’s ‘best and most innovative’ workplaces.
The 250,000 sq ft building, which is home to 54 digital and production start-ups and companies, was one of only three award winners from outside London, winning the “innovation” award from The British Council for Offices (BCO).Founder of The Sharp Project, Sue Woodward OBE said: “Given that we were up against some of the most expensive and prestigious buildings in the UK this is an amazing award to win. Innovation is today’s buzz word – but it is actually very hard to achieve for real. This is what our architects PRP did. Alistair Weir and James Hackett were able to take what was in my head and make it real. They are a fantastic, talented pair of innovative architects. The Sharp Project’s design is now copied elsewhere – we created a trend!”
Director of PRP’s Manchester office Alistair Weir added: “It’s fantastic to get this national recognition for what we achieved at The Sharp Project here in Manchester. PRP is privileged to have worked with Sue Woodward, shaping her vision for converting the former industrial units into a new type of workspace that responds to what modern directional companies need and how they operate. The success would not have been possible without her tremendous support and the forward thinking backing of Manchester City Council.”
Writing on the BCO website, the judges said:
“The stripped workplaces are highly adaptable offering the creative occupiers maximum opportunity to adapt and personalise their spaces. When room became scarce, availability was expanded by introducing converted, used shipping containers which had been reinvented as glazed offices and plugged into the site’s world class technical infrastructure.
“These are positioned around the central street linking the various buildings and facilities – there is a waiting list for the space. The used containers were converted off site, allowing the main building to be prepared for occupation, decorated and service infrastructure installed.
“Without the creator’s innovation this industrial site would have rotted and become another derelict industrial eyesore. But instead the occupants are now able to experience a unique blend of creative and thought provoking spaces that are easily adaptable as business practises change, grow or contract. The environment encourages the occupiers to collaborate, as well as compete, with each other for business.”
The only other northern office building to win an award was Number One Riverside on Smith Street which houses the new civic offices for Rochdale Borough Council. It serves as a public library, includes cafes, private meeting areas and a workplace. It merged 33 buildings into one and won the award for the best workplace of 2014.
The other winners include The Guardian’s headquarters in Kings Cross and the home of an insurance broker in the capital. See the full list here.