In 2011, Hodder + Partners won an architectural competition organised by Olympian Homes to design a 330-bed hotel in Manchester for German hotel operator Motel One. Today, it is open for business and proving very popular for its central position and value-for-money. Located just outside the Whitworth Street conservation area, the site faces Manchester’s Piccadilly Station and wraps around a public house (Monroes) on the corner of London Road and Whitworth Street. The ground floor of the 105,000ft2 scheme includes hotel reception, restaurant and bar.
Main contractor Russells Construction appointed Buchan Concrete Solutions to design, manufacture and erect the precast concrete structure, including sandwich panels. Buchan had already been working closely with Russells for 12 months on a value engineering scheme to fit in closely with their cost model. Motel One is a flagship project for both companies, the structure being their first high-rise acid-etched sandwich-panel solution. Buchan was selected because of its precast concrete expertise and its reputation and commitment to delivering a quality product on time. The composite sandwich panels were cast at their Byley facility in Cheshire.
Precast concrete was chosen for the construction as, particularly for hotels, it has a lot going for it. Typically, a tried-and-tested precast concrete modular system is adopted but even non-modular construction is head-and-shoulders above any other approach. To begin with, erection can proceed year-round in most weather conditions and an immediate work deck is automatically provided for other trades. This means that interior finishing is fast and efficient. Furthermore, the use of solid RC slabs meant that carpet can be directly applied to the surface with minimal preparation.
Another benefit is that precast concrete floors minimise sound transmission, assuring guests of a quiet stay. Finally, precast concrete will provide maximum fire protection and can often significantly lower insurance costs. However, even when concrete is not adopted for the main structural frame, precast concrete in the form of external cladding is often the principal aesthetic component. Facade surfaces can be retarded, brushed, polished, exposed fine aggregate, or sand-blasted, with colour achieved with white cement, pigments and coloured aggregates. And as well as being attractive and practical, precast concrete is safe, since factory manufacture reduces the need for site labour and cuts construction time.
For Motel One, in-situ works started from basement level through to transfer level at first floor where Buchan began the main package of PCC works. The facade comprises large floor-to-ceiling glazed window panels for each bedroom which are glazed at the factory before delivery, with the exterior finished in a stone-coloured acid-etched concrete, to reflect the precast finishes within the surrounding Piccadilly Place development. Window frames and elements linking the various blocks have a bronze anodised aluminium finish to reflect the faience of the Fire Station and the cladding to 3 Piccadilly Place. To achieve a consistent colour for all external panels, coarse and fine aggregates and sand were sourced from a single quarry which, along with tightly controlled batching, achieved exceptional results.
The hotel is 14 storeys high fronting London Road, and seven storeys on the Whitworth Street side. The £25.5 million project achieved a BREEAM very good standard.

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