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One Angel Square :10 Years on...

Updated: May 9

Lightivity founder Richard Cameron looks back on his involvement on a project that set a new benchmark in the world of commercial building design.

"10 years ago, whilst leading Buro Happold's lighting design studio in London, I had the privilege to head up the lighting design on the newly proposed £100m The Co-operative Group Headquarters building in Manchester - now known as 'One Angel Square'.

The initial project was announced by Manchester architects 3D Reid in 2009 after winning the competition to design the building. I remember being given the client's project brief 'Create a green, landmark building for the city, in which the lighting scheme must be suitable for a modern, flexible working environment, whilst being low in energy consumption, high end and suitable for multiple uses'.

3D Reid's initial concept images of the building inspired me immediately and I recall discussing with the design team that the key to a successful project was to deliver what the client loved about the initial competition imagery and to make that a functioning reality.

For the next 4years that's what we strived for from the early design phases right through to the building completion in 2013".

Building Design:

The building's interior primarily consists of open plan office space and can accommodate up to 4,000 staff. The building has 327,643 sq ft of total space - approximately 29,000 sq ft per floor. A focal point is the 'diagonal slice' which creates a nine-floor high atrium with its glass roof tilted towards the south, maximising daylight and passive solar gain.

"I recall the initial 3D Reid building images had an artistic, blue colour hue highlighting the roof structure and thinking at the outset that we should try and replicate that vision using light.

The early lighting concepts explored how we could light the huge atrium structure using linear LED luminaires and how we could potentially alter the colour to replicate the Co-operative's in-house business brands or recognise national events etc.

There was of course some resistance to begin with, it was a large cost and a huge structure to illuminate, it was certainly a challenge as LED wasn't the lighting source it is now, saying that I remember presenting the scheme intent to the team outlining how it would help visually define and enhance the atrium and create a visual 'wow factor' whilst standing in the atrium ground floor or viewing the building from afar. We eventually managed to convince the team to go with it and to this day I've always felt this single lighting treatment helped take the building to a higher level".

A New Benchmark:

In 2011 the building achieved the accolade of obtaining the highest recorded BREEAM score, making it one of the most sustainable large buildings in the world. The building is also one of the largest in Europe to have a BREEAM 'Outstanding' distinction and was the only commercial building in the United Kingdom at the time to achieve maximum ratings in energy and sustainability performance by the three main rating systems.

The building was formally opened in November 2013 by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Look Back:

"I vividly recall that designing the lighting scheme for the entire building was a challenging process, trying to find the right balance of combining functional and energy efficient lighting (to achieve BREEAM) whilst still trying to retain an exciting, aesthetic lighting design that would enhance the architectural elements and help create a visual and stimulating experience for those visiting and those working in the building.

For me personally, being involved in the project was a 'game changer'. It expanded my outlook as a designer, working alongside a range of other talented design and engineering specialists from differing services gave me a valuable insight and experience into working as part of a large multi-disciplinary team, all working together as a collective, pushing and setting new benchmarks in architecture, design and engineering.

I've had the opportunity to revisit the building again in 2018, 5 years after it's grand opening.

It was great to see it 'alive' and full of people going about their day. It is always a great feeling to see people interact with something you have helped create, it reminds me that we design these amazing spaces for people and that light has a crucial role to play in enhancing spaces, places and most importantly, people's experiences within the built environment".


Key Project Awards:

2013 RICS Awards – Design & Innovation (Winner) 2013 RICS Awards – Overall Project of the Year (Winner) 2013 RIBA Awards – North West Region (Shortlisted) 2013 BCO Awards – North West Region (Joint Winner) 2013 BCO Awards – Corporate Workplace (Winner)


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