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Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD), Manchester

A collaborative learning and research environment

The Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) is one of the single, largest construction projects undertaken by any UK higher education institution.

The University are investing over £350M to create a new and dynamic engineering campus. The development will provide over 75,000m2 of modern facilities in a bespoke environment, to support excellent research, teaching and learning in the 21st century for over 8,000 students and staff.

MECD will see the relocation of the Schools of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Material Science and Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. It will also house key research institutes, Foundation Studies, and the majority of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty's leadership and Professional Support Services.

MECD will support an integrated academic community, create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, enhance the student experience and maximize space efficiency. It will house a variety of advanced technologies and equipment and will add to the University’s existing world class research facilities.


The sustainability vision, and targets such as BREEAM ‘Excellent’, have been addressed throughout the design. A fabric first energy hierarchy has been followed, with numerous aspects of energy saving and efficiency being incorporated. These efforts have set the foundation for MECD to be an extremely efficient campus, delivering the required spaces and performance whilst having significantly reduced emissions.


BIM has been used for engagement and to capture the University’s requirements. Models are exchanged for coordination and the 3D digital information linked to advanced analysis, such as capturing equipment requirements, pedestrian modelling and for the generation of the cost plan.

MECD is being delivered by a team of engineers and consultants from our Manchester office and the North West & Yorkshire , with the support of the wider practice. MECD will open in 2019, with occupation phased over the year, preceded by training and familiarization.

Vibration engineering

The inner city site is in close proximity to roads, coupled with the stringent requirements to limit vibration for sensitive electron microscopes, presents a complex technical challenge.

Arup planned a detailed sequence of surveys to establish the existing conditions and consulted with the users to define performance criteria. Using these results and requirements, cutting edge analysis was undertaken, including soil-structure analysis to optimise the solution.

Pedestrian circulation modelling

Pedestrian circulation through the building has been simulated, modelling a day in the life of MECD in close consultation with project stakeholders. Dynamic analysis has been undertaken using Mass Motion developed by Arup’s in-house software team, Oasys.

The collaborative process of optimising the circulation has created a better design with smoother pedestrian flows and clearer way-finding. Vistas have been opened up into the laboratory and workshop spaces.

Building services

The building servicing strategy provides environmental conditions to support the most advanced research and high specification scientific equipment, whilst maximising the use of natural ventilation and daylighting.

The integration of the many and complex services, has been developed in BIM which has also captured equipment data. The complex services have been designed to minimise energy consumption to achieve the ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating.

Structural Engineering

The structure provides a simple robust armature for the various activities in the building and responds to the University’s future adaptability requirements.

Spatial flexibility has been balanced with achieving the vibration performance requirements for high specification measurement and imaging equipment. As part of the architecture, the structure is exposed and provides thermal mass for night cooling.

Civil Engineering

A separate demolition and utilities enabling contract has commenced, in parallel with developing the design, to ensure the site is ready for development. Arup are acting as Principle Designer for these enabling works. As well as utilities crossing the site there is also a deep, large diameter sewer that bisects the site.  We engaged in extensive stakeholder consultation to confirm the location of this significant piece of city infrastructure.