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Artist's impression of the Beetham Tower
A cut above: the Beetham Tower

A cut above: high rise living is back

By Yakub Qureshi
Chicago, New York, Los Angeles... Skyscrapers may still be a Transatlantic thing, but as work continues on the UK's tallest residential building in Manchester, we ask why more and more people are reaching for the skies.


With an increasing numbers of people looking to sample the best that city living has to offer, developers have literally risen to the challenge of housing them with a new generation of tower blocks.

Beetham Tower
Higher, baby: Beetham Tower

High rise living has traditionally been viewed as a hangover from Britain's post-war past but now modern apartments in glass and steel are being snapped up by discriminating city dwellers.

Construction work for 47-storey in Manchester’s city centre – the UK’s tallest residential building - began earlier this year. All but four of the 219 apartments in the 171m Beetham Tower have been sold even though buyers cannot move in for another two years.

And this is just the beginning of the high rise renaissance.

Three luxury high rises are currently under construction in nearby Salford, with plans for another 30-storey residential development in Chapel Street recently approved. Housing developers Peel Holdings are also drawing up plans for a 40-storey building at Salford Quays.

The UK’s tallest residential building on London’s Barbican estate, which stands at 128m. Ian Simpson, the designer of the latest Manchester development, who himself lives in the city’s multi-storey No. 1 Deansgate, said that buyers wanted homes that were also city landmarks.

"There is definitely a desire among some people to live in a distinctive building.
“You are well positioned and well located in the city but you can retreat to a space which is much calmer."

"People don't have a garden if they live in the city but in these buildings they can still look out of their window and get magnificent views"
Julie Twist, letting agent

Property experts say it is not only young people who were clamouring for the high life.

Julie Twist, who has been letting properties in Manchester for 11 years, said the flats were popular with retired couples who want to live close to restaurants and theatres.

"People don't have a garden if they live in the city but in these buildings they can still look out of their window and get magnificent views," she said.

There may even be deeper-rooted reasons for the upward trend.

Tom Stewart, a psychologist who advises businesses how architecture can affect people’s wellbeing, said the high-rise homes could offer a sense of calm.

"If you look out your window don't see anything above you or nearby that gives you a sense of privacy and security which you don't have in a conventional flat surrounded by your neighbours."

last updated: 24/11/04
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Jealousy gets you nowhere
You'll find that most of the negative comments were made by jealous people living outside Manchester. A touch of green eyed envy has befallen them. The fact is they would love a landmark, status, jaw dropping sky scraper to be built in their nearest City. I'm in favour of such a magnificent looking achitectual delight. Here's to more of them.

paul from salford
what a eyesore why do people want to live in a monstrositie like that beats me

Simon, Salford
I can't wait, I think it looks beautiful and long may Manchester's LONG overdue renaissance continue!!

John
Has nobody seen Towering Inferno? Did Steve McQueen nearly die in vain?

Parveen Prakesh
Thank god for this exciting new development it definately brings the city back into Manchester. A whole new era awaits.

Jason, Manchester
It's going to be another target in Manchester for terrorists. why is there a need for such a high building anyway? only good thing at the moment is publicity for our city and the possible revenue coming in

Madeleine
It is a beautiful structure which will enhance Manchester as forward thinking city. We travel the world looking at buildings so why not have Manchester up there with Bilbao. Keep the old that's worth preserving but let's build the new

Lill
Living in flats does not bring a sense of calm. You can hear everything from the flat above and everything from the flat below.People will only realise once they're in them. Furthermore, what's wrong with all the lovely empty victorian terraces in Manchester? I wish money would be invested in those!

Roger, Huddersfield
It's about time the city looked like a city, I think we should have more. Nice to see the investment in the city and shows that Manchester is moving forward and not back. Can't wait to see it finished. Hats off to the city council.

Robert MacRae
I might be more supportive of these grandiose schemes if the architects stopped providing deceitful images of how the finished product will appear. Without fail, their skyscrapers neatly seem to be in scale with local buildings. Look at the image of the Beetham Tower for this article! Have you ever seen such a short skyscraper? And if the image shows the building by night, you can be assured it is being built cheaply with uninspired brick and glass without any ornament or imaginative flourish. Give us something world-class, something that will grab headlines outside of the MEN and maybe we’ll truly have something to be proud of. In the meantime, these skyscrapers will continue to be outstripped by relatively low-rise but hugely creative developments like the Lowry and Imperial War Museum North.

Chris
It is amazing and will help to raise Manchester's profile. It is nothing like the Salford tower blocks, which are disgusting because they were badly designed and built with poor quality materials. I can't wait for it to be finished and hope there will be more like it soon.

paul brannan
wel lthats exactly what the city needs another piece of overpriced trash that in a few years will be laughed at for impracticality

Jeff, Manchester
This is such a great tower and such a wonderful new iconic bulding for manchester. And that's not all - there are more towers in the pipeline for manchester. There is the 186m eastgate tower by piccadilly station which has just been approved ( this will beat beetham by a whopping 29m roof - to - roof ), the 1 Hardman square building at spinningields at an unconfirmed 140m and the crown building, also by picadilly station at 131m, among others including Salford's new high-rise development's which at present look as though they could beat Manchester's, although none are approved yet. Take a look at www.skyscrapercity.com if you're interested in pictures.

Patricia (Calgary, Canada)
I wonder if people will enjoy residing in these types of buildings after a the fire alarm goes off a couple of times. I certainly wouldn't want to walk down hundreds of stairs should such a situation arise. Give me a bungalow and a garden any day.

Keith
Yet another step towards Manchester becoming another faceless city, full of chain restaurants and bars, and no soul. Manchester used to have a heart, now it's just another Milton Keynes.

Stuart Tracey
It looks great and is deffinately needed to give us a more modern image, however I have to question how many people could actually afford to live in it? Most people in Manchester are on a low income. WHy should the rest of us live in squallor whilst outside investors move in with their high-earner jobs and live in luxury? We are all entitled to decent accommodation, no matter how low our inome, and the poorest residents are ALWAYS overlooked. That said, I still think it looks like an amazing building. Perhaps the council should build one next to it and give it to tenants!!?

Girl
Why does everything in Manchester have to be bigger and better than everywhere else? Very sad

Chris
It's fantastic. Why can't people actually look at these buildings properly instead of automatically thinking they're like the 60s Salford tower blocks? The only thing it has in common with them is that it's a tall residential building. Buildings reflect their times - would it be more acceptable if we put some stone cladding on it and helped it to "blend in"?

Wilbert Koon
I walked by the building recently and the wind at ground level is unbelievable. Once the tower is completed you are likely to get blown away if you walk anywhere close to the tower. Regarding the economics of apartment lifestyle. The vast majority of apartments built in the city centre are small boxes that do not promote a sustained community. There is also an oversupply of such units in the city centre which puts a downward pressure on prize values.

Sarah
I love living in a city with so much new development going on. A couple of days ago I was in the city centre and the sun was glinting off all the new buildings and cranes, it feels like there's a lot of energy in this city, and some of the new buildings are really beautiful. Bring on the skyscrapers!

Mike S
This looks like being a beautiful finished article - a real 'wow' building. Already people are talking about it and it's not even half way up yet. Only cities with ambition get this kind of building and the injection of confidence that such a development creates should not be under-estimated. More please.

paul
its very nice but it does not go with what is around it.it would look much better in newcastle

emma clarke
i think its a disgrace,id hate to live there

James Hennigan
its got to be good for manchester!

Graham Shuttleworth
I cannot believ all of the negative comments. I believe that the majority of people will be pacified when they see the finished article, and believe that Manchester`s blend of ultra modern and freshly cleaned older buildings will create the city that should have been here years ago. I`m just glad to see the ambition and money arriving in the city when the decision makers have at last perceived a sense of quality design and cohesion

Mike
it is beautiful! at last a wopping great tower for Manchester I would love an apartment on the upper floors.

Andy,Manchester
Whats up with you people. This building is putting Manchester on the map and its one of greastest things to happen to Manchester city centre. This has set off a boom in Manchester there are more buildings like this but taller in the pipe line and I love it.

Tom Lynchehaun
Its a fantastic tower. Despite the negative reactions here, I believe people will grow to like it once they see it for real.

Nick
Another fantastic development to bring manchester into the 21st century. we need as many of these skyscrapers as we can get in manchetster - and as much waste land should be developed as possible. Disappointed in other people's reactions.

Bob, manchester
I dont see how this trend can last much longer, most of these luxury developments are still empty or have been bought out before they're even finished, by banks and insurance companies. Although visually striking they are providing no intrinsic value to the city centre. Plannning policy today favours 'clusters'of towers such as Canary Wharf and the city of london yet Manchester has decided to string these towers throughout the city centre, creating a disjointed, haphazard skyline. If these higher buildings had been created near to the CIS towers on the acres of waste land north of the city centre then they could have formed a striking site, but yet another opportunity has been wasted and Manchester is beginning to look like any other post industrial city desperate to look like another North American city.

Joan, Manchester
Why on earth are we spending more money on new buildings, when the old ones we have got are standing there derelict? We need more affordable housing for those of us on the poorer end of the scale, rather than nice fancy buildings for those earning more than the average Joe. Why not invest money in doing up the buildings that are already there, than buildings monstrosities where car parks used to be?

Alex
Its looks quite nice although a bit lonely and out of place. I hope it becomes nothing like the ones found in Salford. They're scruffy, concrete structures that should all be demolished!

Alex Sharratt
Instead of building up, why don't people build down? Just dig a massive hole in the ground and build some flats in it. Then people can't complain about skyscrapers ruining the skyline. Simple, eh?

Stephen Harris
I hope the Salforders don't destroy them like they did with the tower blocks on Cross lane in the early 1960s.

Theresa Andrew
I'm struck by the contrast between Beetham Tower and the old style buildings. It rather spoils things for me, but no doubt it wont look out of place in a few years time at the rate these new buildings are flying up.

Pamela
It looks like a melted piece of an icicle has fallen off the sky and planted itself in manchester

Sandip
It is trash. I have never seen a skyscraper as rubbish as this one

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Munich 1958
Remembering the Munich air disaster




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