manageable pieces was an important
consideration when choosing a framing
solution. However, the selection of steel for
the primary structure was primarily driven
by the need for large uninterrupted spans in
the rehearsal, atrium and café space.
“The steel solution was also more
economic, reduced the construction
programme, offered a more sensitive
connection to the existing listed campanile
tower, and can ultimately be recycled should
the building ever be dismantled,” explains
The form of the extension is said to be
expressed as a robust brickwork plinth at
street level that cradles the first-floor main
rehearsal space. Most of the upper floor is
clad with weathering steel fins, allowing light
to enter the rehearsal area, while making an
exterior reference to the industrial heritage
of the local environment.
The extension’s upper floor rehearsal
room and two adjacent practice rooms
are floating box-in-box spaces, which are
acoustically-isolated from the primary
structural frame and slab. This is to prevent
sound transfer and ensure the highest level of
acoustic performance in these key spaces.
The boxes have their own compositely
formed slabs, which are sat on acoustic pads
and allow the spaces to be separated from the
main first floor by a dividing and insulated
void of 20mm.
Installing the steelwork for these isolated
boxes was one of the trickiest parts of the
“As the boxes’ steelwork is not connected
to the main frame, they were initially hung
from roof level temporary supports, which
had to stay in position until the slabs were
poured and the boxes were supported,”
explains H.H Smith & Sons Project Manager
The rehearsal space box is formed with a
traditional beam and column framework and
measures approximately 20m-long × 12m–
deep and 9m-high, while the two smaller
practice rooms are constructed from light
gauge steel framing system (SFS).
The Hallé St Peter’s extension is due for
completion in the final quarter of this year.
Phase one; church restoration
Built in 1859, St Peter’s was the first
protestant church to be built in Ancoats,
which at the time was a predominantly
catholic area, as a large proportion of
the population was made up of mill workers from
Ireland and Italy.
The church’s iconic semi-circular apse was
built to ensure the building’s prominence against
the surrounding angular cotton mill factories.
Internally, the structure is notable for being one of
the city’s first to use cast iron columns.
As the cotton industry declined and the local
population decreased, the church closed in 1960.
After a period of being left empty, in 2013 the Hallé
raised funding to complete a restoration project
and convert the church for use by the orchestra and
Interestingly, the Hallé, which is considered to
be among the UK’s top symphony orchestras, was
founded just one year before the church was built.
The steel frame connects to the
existing church building
A large truss forms a
Cellular beams create
the first-floor spaces
Model of the