School of Digital Arts

Our team promptly gained planning permission from Manchester City Council for Manchester Metropolitan University’s exciting plans for a £35m School of Digital Arts (SODA) on Higher Chatham Street in Manchester.

SODA, which is being supported by grant funding from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and an Industry Advisory Board chaired by Danny Boyle, will house subjects that span film, animation, UX design, photography, games design, AI and more. It will support Greater Manchester's creative and digital industries, creating a digital skills powerhouse and work closely with key regional cultural and industry partners such as Home, Red Productions, ITV and the BBC.

The highly accessible 5,600sqm five-storey building will be future proofed: responding to changes in technology, and will contain a digital innovation lab, open workspaces, green screens, edit suites, screening space, a media gallery, sound and music studios and production studios.

New high-quality public realm comprising of a pedestrianised street between the Benzie Building and the new SODA facility will create a new attractive outdoor environment close to the Students’ Union for students and staff to enjoy. The pedestrianisation of Higher Chatham Street will integrate with Manchester Met’s wider campus public realm masterplan to improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity across the All Saints Campus.

Planning Associate, Nicole Roe said: “The new School of Digital Art will transform the learning experience of students in one of the largest creative communities in the UK. It will not only make a significant contribution to the wider Manchester economy within the knowledge innovation district known as the Corridor Manchester, but also create quality buildings and public buildings in line with the City’s own aspirations.”

Manchester Metropolitan University is being supported in the development of the SODA project by Turner & Townsend with Fielden Clegg Bradley as architect, Buro Happold engineers, we acted as planning and engagement consultants.

Alongside, RHS Garden Bridgewater, the project was shortlisted for the Greater Manchester Chamber's 2021 Building of the Year Award, forming part of a six strong list of projects that have been commended for their quality and diversity and the impact they have had on Greater Manchester. RHS Garden Bridgewater was the eventual winner of the award.

Image - Fielden Clegg Bradley