Tower of Light and Wall of Energy, Manchester Building, English Architecture

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy in Manchester

4 Mar 2022

Location: Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, M1 5HA, north west England, UK

Architects: Tonkin Liu

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo © Matthew Burnett

Photos: Mike Tonkin, David Valinsky and Matthew Burnett

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy, north west England

The Tower of Light is a 40-metre tall tower supporting and enclosing flues for a new low-carbon energy centre in Manchester’s city centre. The biomimetic structure has built on the decade- long innovation and research, Shell Lace Structure, pioneered by Tonkin Liu and developed in collaboration with engineers at Arup.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo © Mike Tonkin Tower

Learning from geometries in nature, the tower’s form is its strength. The super-light, super-thin single-surface structure uses the least material to achieve the most. The tower is constructed from 6 and 8mm thick flat steel sheets, tailored, laser-cut, then welded together to create a curved stiff strong surface. Modern methods of construction using advanced digital modelling, analysis, and fabrication, combined with principles of tailoring, have made the Shell Lace Structure innovation possible. This is the largest built Shell Lace Structure to date.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photos © David Valinsky Photography

The Wall of Energy is a 63-metre long, 4- 6 metre height street façade enclosing the new energy centre. The glazed ceramic tiles reflect light and movement from the clouds in the sky, and the hustle and bustle of pedestrians and cars on the streets. The tessellated interlocking lozenge tile pattern evokes the dynamic energy of earth’s movements, as seen in patterns left in the sand by ocean waves. The 31 different tile types produce undulations that increase in height, across a total of 1373 tiles.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo to the right © Mike Tonkin – photo to the left © David Valinsky Photography

Contained within a structure inspired by nature, the technological working of the new energy centre hall can be viewed through a long ribbon window.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK
photos © David Valinsky Photography

Minimal energy is used to light the Tower of Light. During the day, polished reflectors inside the tower move in the wind, to reflect sunlight into the tower’s chambers and fill the tower with moving light. During the night, LED lights directed at the reflectors create animated, programmed light sequences every quarter of an hour, marking the passage of time. The Wall of Energy reflects the light of moving clouds and car headlights on the street, as well as being animated with integrated programmed light at night. On landmark dates across the year, the Tower and Wall are illuminated together with colours to mark cultural celebrations.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo © David Valinsky Photography

Tonkin Liu worked with locally based fabricators to deliver both the tower and the wall. The tower was fabricated by Shawton Engineering, where the final stitch-welding was reserved for the most experienced hands of two veteran welders. The ceramic tiles were fabricated by Darwen Terracotta, one of the UK’s oldest and most respected terracotta companies.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo © David Valinsky Photography

With the opening of the Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN) and Energy Centre, key civic buildings in the centre of Manchester are provided with low carbon energy through a 2 km network of buried, insulated pipes and power cables. The Energy Centre contains a highly-efficient 3.3MWe CHP engine with two back-up12MW gas boilers, The centre has the capability to incorporate future low/zero carbon energy technologies, including the use of Green Gas, Hydrogen Fuel, and Heat Pumps without disruption to the supply. Heat from the power-generating CHP engine is harnessed to create hot water, distributed through the insulated district pipework across the city. The technology improves energy, contributing towards the city’s goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK
photos © David Valinsky Photography

The completed Tower of Light and Wall of Energy create a prominent new gateway into Manchester’s historic district. Together they form a holistic energy landmark that engages communities with the innovative technologies at the heart of Manchester’s low-carbon ambition and Climate Change Action Plan.

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK
photos © David Valinsky Photography

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy in Manchester, England – Building Information

Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network & Energi Centre
Project address Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, M1 5HA
Gross area Tower of Light = L 6.2m x W 3.8m x H 39.2m
Wall of Energy = 63.4m long, 349sqm, 1373no. tiles, 31no. tile types
Project cost: Confidential
Start Date: Design Competition won October 2017
Completion: 14th October 2021 Tower of Light ceremony
February 2022 Official Opening new energy centre

Project Team
Client / Employer / Primary Funding Client
Company: Manchester City Council
Contact Name: Julian Packer
Position: Civic Quarter Heat Network Project Director (Technical)
Address: Manchester City Council, PO Box 532, Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA

Client / Main Contractor & Operator
Company: Vital Energi
Contact Name: Phil Mottershead
Position: Account Director
Address: Century House, Roman Rd, Blackburn BB1 2LD

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester UK
Art, Architecture, Landscape
Company: Tonkin Liu – https://tonkinliu.co.uk/
Contact (Directors): Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu
Project Architect: Matthew Burnett
Address: 5 Wilmington Square, London WC1X 0ES

Structural Engineering
Company: Arup
Contact (Director): Ed Clark
Project Engineer: Chris Clarke
Address: 8 Fitzroy Street, London, W1T 4BJ

Lighting Design
Company: SEAM Design
Contact (Director): Emory Smith
Address: 1-2 Atlas Mews, Ramsgate St, London, E8 2NE

Tower of Light – Steelwork Fabricator
Company: Shawton Engineering Ltd
Contact: Jamie Shaw
Address: Unit 1 Junction Lane, Sankey Valley Industrial Estate
Newton-Le-Willows, WA12 8DN

Wall of Energy – Facade Contractor
Company: Axis Envelope Solutions
Contact: Steve McKenna
Address: Unit 2, Newmarket Approach, Cross Green Ind Estate
Leeds, LS9 0RJ

Wall of Energy – Ceramic Tile Manufacturer
Company: Darwen Terracotta
Contact Name: Jon Wilson
Address: Ribble House, Challenge Way,
Blackburn, BB1 5RB

Planning Consultant
Company: Turley
Contact: Mark Worcester
Address: 1 New York Street, Manchester M1 4HD

Lighting Supplier
Company: Tryka UK
Contact Name: Ryan Rolph
Address: Unit 3 Station Works, Station Road,
Shepreth, Hets, SG8 6PZ

Lighting Programming
Company: ECS Limited
Contact Name: Adam Hardy
Address: Charter House, Stansfield Street, Nelson,
Lancashire, BB9 9XY

Lighting Installer
Company: ProGen
Contact Name: Antony Drayton
Address: ProGen Services, Humberville Road
Immingham, DN40 1AX

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy Manchester
photo © David Valinsky Photography

Tonkin Liu

Photograpgy: Mike Tonkin, David Valinsky and Matthew Burnett

Tower of Light and Wall of Energy, Manchester images / information received 040322

Location: Lower Mosley Street, Manchester, M1 5HA, Manchester, Northwest England, UK

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