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Living on top of Europe

It's been casting a growing shadow over the city. And now the tallest residential building in Europe has finally reached its highest point. But what does the 48-storey Beetham Tower say about Manchester? We talk to architect Ian Simpson:


Beetham Tower, Manchester
A cut above: Beetham Tower

More than any other individual, Ian Simpson is shaping our city. He’s already designed No. 1 Deansgate and Urbis. And now his biggest project to date is nearing completion.

At 168.87m (554ft) tall, the Beetham Tower is an imposing presence at the southern end of Deansgate. And a landmark in high rise living.

It may not be the highest building in the UK - that honour goes to Canary Wharf in London - but it's the tallest wholly residential building in the whole of Europe.

The first 23 floors will house a five star Hilton hotel boasting the city's first ever ‘sky bar’ and offering views across Manchester and beyond. The other 24 floors will contain 219 apartments, most of which sold in 12 months.

Love it or hate it.. you certainly can’t miss it. Whether you can afford it is another matter.  With penthouses starting from £700,000 rising to £2.5m for the top floor apartment, they don't come cheap.

Leading the revoluton in high rise living is architect Ian Simpson who will be enjoying the high life as the highest homeowner in Europe.

As the building reached its highest point, we asked him a few questions:

So you’ll be living in the top floor flat…?

Architect Ian Simpson
Shaping Manchester: Ian Simpson

"Yes I will be living there hopefully and enjoying the views."

Why does Manchester need a building like this?

"I think we do have a fantastic Victorian heritage but we have to move on. I think over the last 10 years with Urbis and No.1 Deansgate and other buildings such as this one and future buildings to come, I think we’ll see a 21st Century Manchester sitting very comfortably next to 19th Century Manchester."

What will living in a skyscraper be like?

"It’s a totally different thing to the sixties pre-cast tower blocks that people were put into who didn’t want to live there. These are about high quality materials, high quality service, 24-hour concierge, fantastic views, incredible light and sanctuary actually within the city and yet you’ll have the city at your doorstep."

Is this the beginning of an explosion in high rise living?

Sunset from Beetham Tower [pic: Duncan Lockwood]
Great views [pic: Duncan Lockwood]

"I hope more (high rise tower blocks) come on. It’s a very sustainable way of regenerating our cities. If we don’t consolidate the brownfield pieces of our cities, and we don’t try to intensify the density within our cities, then we’ll have no countryside left."

So how much will a top floor penthouse cost?

"I couldn’t possibly say but far too much, that’s all I can say! But there are penthouses that are still on the market just underneath mine for over a million pounds."

Finally – how do you move in to the top floor of a 48-storey tower? Do you put the dining room table in the lift?

"Absolutely, that’s exactly what you do. Or you carry it up the stairs!"

last updated: 28/04/06
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