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All Saints Library Adaptive Re-use

Team of 4 people

Manchester School of Architecture

MArch 1, 2021

Jicwood Prize 2021 Nominee

This adaptive reuse project redesigns the existing MMU library considering alternative future scenarios for the campus. By working with MMU estates as a live client, a futures methodology was used to research and design plausible trajectories into our adaptable spatial strategy to address the client brief. By doing this, we follow established research methods to achieve an adaptable, flexible and resilient design.


The new proposal features a new vertical high-tech extension and internal adaptations while the exterior façade reintroduces and reconfigures the bricks as a new permeable skin with an aluminium panel system that mimics the bricks. This new proposal draws out new qualities the internal spaces such as the twisted internal atrium and the archive tower while offering comfortable and controlled augmented learning spaces and open plan study spaces.

The Site

The site of All Saints library

The All Saints library building is located in the center of the MMU campus, adjacent to the All Saints park and MMU business school. It is also enclosed by the Mancunian Way to the North and Oxford road to the East. Surrounded by different aspects of the city, it provides a huge amount of opportunities for the design.

It is also part of the university’s strategic development (MMU Estates Strategy 2017-2027). First to be developed, the development will re-imagine the future of not only the library but the positioning of the university as an institution in the Oxford road corridor and in Manchester.

In the context of the Oxford Road Corridor

The site is situated on Oxford road and is part of the wider Oxford road corridor strategic vision 2025, a strategic plan to develop the corridor into an innovative district located south of the city centre home to a unique concentration of knowledge, business and cultural assets.

The aim of the partnership is to support and grow innovation clusters, enhance job creation, economic growth, and create new neighbourhoods.

|The building proposal strategically position itself in the corridor as a beacon for the information, communication and arts sectors.

Sector division of the Oxford Road Corridor

The Corridor has a 60,000 people workforce and 70,000 students but is heavily focused on the education, health and professional sectors but lack in information and communication and Arts, entertainment recreation and other services sectors, with an extremely unbalanced human capital being distributed.

Although the corridor pushes for development in every aspect, the presence of the 2 universities skew the specialist they attract in favour of education and profession.

The project sees a strategic opportunity to position itself as a starting beacon to attract more people in the recreational sector and to provide relevant provisions to foster such specialist.

Massing Development

Giving the library a new breathe of life

|The design envisions a new “hat intervention” floats a new volume above the existing library. The repositioning of entrances draw visitors into the central atrium, greeted with the center piece of the library - the archive, towering full height of the building. Following the archive up, visitors leave the old library to enter a new library era, signified by the twisting atrium and streamlined space planning.

00 Existing

01 Unify

02 Hat

03 Atrium

04 Twist Atrium

05 "The past is a pillar of the future"

06 Skylight

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07 The new All Saints Library

The Future Library

Re-imagining the library in the digital age

To envision the future of the MMU library in the digital age,

a futures methodology was used to research and design plausible trajectories. After deep analysis on elements that can affect the future of the library are marked down and plotted in a graph, which revealed 3 plausible scenarios.


These scenarios are then used to design a new programme and then fed into a spatial algorithm with a set of parameters to generate possible outcomes for further analysis.

Scenario Planning Using the PESTLE methodology







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Since it is impossible to accurately predict the future, the PESTLE method take known factors and generate multiple plausible futures, an educated guess. Scenario planning famously helped Shell (the oil company) predict and avoid the 1970 oil crisis.

For each of the category, actors that can affect the future of the library are recorded to find correlations to derive possible scenarios of the future. However, politics and economy is less related to the library, it is substituted by related adaptive re-use actors - P (physical) and F (functional) futures of a library.

PESTLE stands for:

P (Political)

E (Economical)

S (Social)

T (Technological)

L (Legal)

E (Environmental)

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|Rearranging the actors identified in the scenario planning on a digitisation - remoteness graph with 3 plausible futures emerging as the most likely to happen

A Generative Spatial Solution

Designing the new library with a generative algorithmic approach





1 Building Programme update

New programme generated by scenario planning design framework is incorporated to generate a new building programme

2 Spatial requirements

Translating the new updated programme into spatial requirements for the new library

3 Spatial relationships

Grasshopper is used to visualise and establish the relationships and adjacencies between spaces

4 Archive as the center point

Based on the spatial relationships, an attractor is utilised to find the distance to the archive, and moving them closer or further based on programme

Grasshopper as a tool to visualise the best spatial relationship

The importance of each programme in the new library and its  relationship towards its neighbours are taken into Grasshopper to visualise plausible solutions to take forward for detailed analysis. Below are some selected results:


A new spatial solution

Facade Design

A new old facade

The project seeks to preserve the familiarity of the existing brick facade but to inject new life into the building. To achieve this, the existing bricks were re-cycled to be installed as a perforated double skin facade on the existing building. The feasibility of number were estimated based on the South facade of the building, given that parts of the building is to be demolished.

The design for the facade of the new extension above the existing building was to draw inspiration from the existing brick facade. However, due to the potential heaviness of the whole building, the design specified a semi-reflective aluminium panel, tilted at 2 degrees to reflect the sky, creating the illusion of lightness and incorporated frosted glass panels to increase the permeability of the building.

New All Saints Building Facade

Existing All Saints Building Facade

The new All Saints Library

The new All Saints Library building

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