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contributed by 323 World Architecture Festival , 10 June 2009


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Description Abito:

The Greengate site forms part of a wider master plan and presented a number of constraints in that it was triangular. Corner options were appraised but these paralysed much of the site and this led to the development of the courtyard option which we called the ‘Greengate Ark’.
The nine storey 256 apartment building, with commercial units at its base, fills the plot. By pushing the apartments to the edge of the site this creates a private, semi-external courtyard at its centre, protected from the weather by a fabric canopy that animates the skyline. Within the landscaped courtyard, occupants will gain access to their flats via a single lift and stair core that rises up to the light just below the canopy. The grand central space is overlooked by open galleries and bridges providing an open circuit and space for tenants to meet their neighbour.
By definition the building is extremely repetitive and modular and this certainly transposes itself on the elevation. Although we were keen to embrace the nature of the building it would be all too easy for the building to become rather relentless. Our approach has been to create a glazed elevation maximising the daylight into the apartment onto which a grid has been imposed to secure the ‘clip on balconies’. The balcony incorporates side cheeks creating a private external space with the splayed form creating interest and a social aspect.

In the same way that the apartment is a pre-fabricated element we liked the fact that the elevation could embody a similar methodology. This enables us to control the quality of the elements as they will be manufactured in factory conditions. Because of the unique nature of the design of the Abito apartments ‘Tunnel form’ construction has been adopted allowing it to be easily replicated.

The Apartment
In order to test and validate the quality of the space, a full size mock up was assembled off site. Each apartment is ‘split’ into two areas – one for living and one for sleeping. They are all fitted with a special full-sized fold-away bed which faces the central ‘pod’. This has a wardrobe with space for a television, utility space for washer/dryer/ironing board/vacuum cleaner on one side and a wheelchair accessible bathroom containing a large shower, toilet and basin on the other. The kitchen comes with a combined microwave and oven, hob, sink, dishwasher and fridge freezer. All services and waste flow out through the riser which runs vertically through all the Abito units above and below. Everything in the apartment is recessed and hidden – until opened, revealed or switched on.

Abito apartments are innovative, quirky, less expensive than many other city centre apartments and are designed with passion and a great deal of care.

Photograph byMartine Hamilton Knight

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Information Abito:

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Manchester, United Kingdom

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