Manchester Town Hall

Returning civic pride to a landmark building

North West
Manchester City Council
  • Planning Awards: Stakeholder Engagement in Planning 2021

Purcell are lead Architects for the £330m refurbishment of the Grade I-listed Manchester Town Hall.

The careful repairs and interventions will bring the Alfred Waterhouse building up to modern environmental, access and safety standards while transforming its visitor experience to make a community hub for all


Our team are restoring the entire building including the Great Hall and its Ford Madox Brown murals while undertaking extensive external repairs. The project is due for completion in 2024 and will ensure the longevity of the building and ensure accessibility throughout for everyone, whilst future-proofing this landmark civic building for generations to come.

Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1877 and is a Victorian, neo-Gothic building which sits in the heart of Manchester. The £330m project aims to transform the town hall back to its former civic glory and involves the repair of internal and external deficits, while renewing building services and improving accessibility and visitor experience.

This includes replacing the entire wiring and plumbing throughout the building and adding modern facilities, including communication links, which will make the building far more functional, sustainable and easier to maintain.

Manchester Town Hall

The work required to repair and upgrade the Town Hall will demand real expertise and dedication, so we have selected our consultants with great care. We look forward to working with them on this once-in-a-lifetime project, which will secure and enhance the long-term future of Manchester’s treasured civic centrepiece.

— Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council

Throughout the project, our team have carried out extensive research into the building which has led to a detailed understanding of its history, building technology and heritage significance. A detailed survey has been undertaken both internally and externally to determine the necessary repairs.

Our Town Hall

Design Proposals

Our desktop and visual surveys have been used to develop proposals for the electrics, ICT, lighting, heating, ventilation and acoustics which respect the historic function of the building whilst increasing efficiency and lowering the carbon footprint. This has enabled our project team to effectively understand the capacity for change and informed our design solutions and conservation philosophy.

Visitor Experience

The Town Hall’s visitor experience will be transformed by providing a dedicated exhibition space featuring the Town Hall’s collection which explores the history of the building. This area will also accommodate guided tours for visitors to understand the building’s heritage and Manchester’s history. As preparation for this, the Town Hall’s collection has been fully catalogued prior to storage and will be conserved before being re-displayed to the public.

Our aim is to bring the town hall back to the cultural heart of Manchester as a flagship destination. We are enjoying working closely with Manchester City Council and our project partners.

— Mark Goldspink, CEO

The project is blossoming from the benefit of a collaborative and multidisciplinary team which has informed the final design. Since the beginning of the project, many educational programmes including a number of apprenticeships have developed and our team continues to be committed to enhancing skills and opportunities for local people which has been central to the project from the very start.

Purcell has realised our vision for the project exceptionally well. The creative and intellectual input is first class, and you respond to the many challenges we throw at you with good grace and a commitment to always deliver, often to demanding deadlines.

— Paul Candelant, Project Director, Manchester City Council