Listed in 1998 as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world, alongside the Taj Mahal and the ancient ruins of Pompeii, the Monastery is regarded by the local community and English Heritage as a site of rich heritage that should never be lost.
The 19th century monastery was hailed as Pugin’s architectural masterpiece and built between 1863 - 1872 by the Franciscan Brothers, to serve the local Catholic community in Manchester. The building was vacated by the Franciscan order in 1989 and subsequently fell into vandalism and disrepair and needed extensive protection and restoration to preserve its historic integrity.
Phase 1 Restoration
The conservation of the monastery began in 1996 with local volunteers forming a Trust in a bid to save this important heritage site. £6.5 million was raised for the initial restoration to rejuvenate the 150 year old Grade II listed buildings into a commercially successful venue. Phase 1 of the restoration was completed in 2007.
Despite these significant achievements as a conference and function destination, the monastery was not connecting with the community as the revenue generated from commercial events was essential for the continual operation of the building and no funds were available to open the facilities to the general public as a community facility.
Phase 2 Welcome Wing and completion of restoration
A further £3m was raised to complete the next project phase, including the completion of the deferred restoration works within the former church and the new ‘Welcome Wing’, a front entrance and community and educational space.
Based on the footprint of an original building taken down in the 1960s, the Welcome Wing will expand the facilities available at the monastery, providing a place for schools, the community and the general public to experience and enjoy whilst the monastery will continue to host corporate and private events.
Construction is due to complete in December 2016 with the Welcome Wing due to open early 2017, allowing the monastery to open their doors to the local community for the first time in more than 25 years.
The flexible, purpose-designed low carbon space will provide a new learning and activity space, adapted reception and shop area, dedicated education space, meeting room, community hub and extended WC facilities.
Driven by sustainability
Saint. Francis, after whom The Monastery was named, is Patron Saint for the environment and had a genuine and deep respect for animals, plants and natural forces. Adopting these values, the Trust was particularly conscious of the environmental impact of the building and its operation and commissioned Ramboll to provide a strategy for Building Services for the development. Ramboll were chosen to provide these services due to our low energy and sustainability credentials on similar projects, including RHS Harlow Carr and the CORE Centre for Refurbishment Excellence.
The provision of the new extension and the size of the existing building, over 1000m², triggered the requirement for consequential improvements to the existing building and this, coupled with the Monastery Trust’s particular focus on the environment, informed Ramboll’s proposals.The result was something more of a study than a project report and provided advice on energy sources, fabric construction, lighting, air tightness, fenestration and the development of a Building Services strategy for the development. An additional report specifically considered a biomass boiler to supply the whole of the building with heating and hot water, giving significant financial and carbon reduction benefits. Although not all elements have been adopted together, they have provided a plan for the future.