A tale of Spanking Roger….

There was once a Scottish man who marched into Manchester in a uniform – he wasn’t in the army, he just thought he looked pretty sexy in a uniform – married a widowed land owner 40 years older than him and along the way got himself the nickname Spanking Roger.

That was Roger Aytoun, who, with his wife Barbara Minshull, owned a lot of the land that KAMPUS now sits on. He had the mildly bad habit of squandering all his wife’s wealth on wine, women and recruitment. He roamed the streets of Manchester recruiting sparring partners to his personal regiment by brawling in pubs. If the fight was won, the loser had to join his regiment gaining Aytoun his nickname of ‘Spanking Roger’. He didn’t lose often (until he drank and gambled his wealth away and scurried back north).

Hilarious (or tragic) as all that is, it’s part of our history. Walk around the city and you’ll walk down Aytoun St or Minshull St and we didn’t want to lose those bits of the past when we set about creating Manchester’s newest neighbourhood.

That’s why we’ve kept what we can at KAMPUS. Once home to some of Manchester’s dirtiest and darkest slums, the area was transformed during the commercial boom of the Victorian era. The echoes of its industrial past can still be seen in the two listed Victorian warehouses, Minto & Turner and Minshull House, built in the 1870’s to store and pack cotton. They’re being converted into loft apartments, leaving lots of that great brickwork and timber exposed, an enduring legacy of the cottonopolis and Manchester’s reinvention.

And then there’s the 1960s tower block. Plenty of people have asked us why we didn’t just bulldoze it. But we love the brutalist architecture which is part of Manchester’s story – and buildings like this will be the listed buildings of the future. Imagine if, after the war, the city had demolished our iconic Town Hall like it had planned? Or what if we got rid of all our historic mills? It would be unthinkable.

If we erased our 60s history, we’d lose our most recent stories. We’d lose part of the connection with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), which was based there. We’d lose Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving to a Pict. The actual animals would probably be fine, but we’d lose the connection with Pink Floyd, who had a song with that name on their wildly experimental album Ummagumma, which was partly recorded in that same MMU building.

But that doesn’t mean we’re overcome with nostalgia. KAMPUS is here to be new – to introduce new things to Manchester, to introduce lush greenery and more open spaces where people can come and chill out. We want to fill our spaces with up and coming brands that are growing locally. We want to create a new community. And we don’t have to compromise. At KAMPUS, you’ll be able to grab a pint with your mates and rest easy knowing that once a guy wandered these same streets, trying to look fit in a uniform – and his name was Spanking Roger.

Want to know more about trading or living at Kampus? Contact us at info@kampus-mcr.co.uk


A journey into KAMPUS

It’s only a year until an exciting new neighbourhood will open in Manchester. Combining hundreds of homes with independent businesses and some much-needed green space, KAMPUS will add another spark of life to the heart of the city. We sat down with its co-creators Adam Brady of Henry Boot Developments and Adam Higgins of Capital & Centric to get the low down on what they’re cooking up for Manchester.

“When we set out with KAMPUS we knew it had to be awesome and much more than just another residential development” says Brady looking out over the £250 million construction site. “This was never going to be a bunch of bland, high-rise white boxes. It’s going to be a homegrown neighbourhood which, whether you live there or not, you can come and explore.”

Higgins adds: “We wanted something very different that didn’t look like it’d been dropped from space. The area is packed with history and character and we wanted that, and the people who will call it home, to define what KAMPUS ultimately is. We were lucky that we had a lot to work with. There are some great buildings on site that other developers might have bulldozed, but we were determined to keep them.”

Once the home of Manchester Metropolitan University, KAMPUS is a smorgasbord of history and architecture with two Victorian warehouses, a brutalist 1960s tower and the Bungalow – a disused security cabin on stilts.

“Everyone was telling us to get rid of the 1960s tower, but we were adamant that we should keep that, and the Bungalow,” Higgins says. “Why? Well, you knock those buildings down and what have you got left? Just some more dull, soulless identikit apartments that could be anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been cheaper to knock down the tower and start again but it gives the place character and I actually really love the brutalist architecture.”

Creating the right vision for a site as central as KAMPUS could have been daunting, but the two Adams were determined to deliver something that would do the location justice. Smiling, Brady reminisces to the early days of KAMPUS when he and Higgins would sit drinking late night Amaretto Sours at the Hoxton in London trawling through Pinterest for inspiration.

“There are some great architects in Manchester, but we felt that everything that was going up in the city looked the same. KAMPUS is so central, so high profile, so unique that we were determined to do something different that would stand out. We’re right on the canal, which got us thinking about other places that have nailed canal-side living, so we started googling Dutch architects. That’s how we ended up with Mecanoo.”

He continues: “We wanted to emulate the quirkiness of the buildings on Canal Street next door, which have a really Dutch vibe, and we took inspiration from places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. We wanted to create a more intimate environment, like European cities where you can be walking down a tiny street and discover a beautiful, hidden square.

Higgins adds: “We also went out to the States but for totally different reasons. At the time no one in the UK was really doing purpose built, single ownership rental schemes so we went to Chicago to see how they do it. The Americans might not be known for their design and architecture, but they do get the nuts and bolts of the service right.”

With over 500 apartments in an eclectic mix of buildings, KAMPUS boasts it has something to suit everyone’s tastes. “Whether you want modern, minimal new build; exposed concrete and waffle ceilings in the 1960s tower; a restored Victorian warehouse with big beautiful windows or a Dutch House in our rooftop village – it’s up to you!”, says Brady.

As well as becoming home to new residents, KAMPUS is set to become a destination neighbourhood in its own right, with a central garden flanked by shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Higgins says: “A lot of new developments are selling an ‘exclusive’ lifestyle but for us it’s always been about making KAMPUS inclusive. Yes, there’ll be a community of over 1,000 people living there, but they’re not going to be living in a bubble. We’re creating a bustling neighbourhood with bars, restaurants, cafes and shops that’ll be open to anyone. And loads of open spaces where you can come and eat your sandwiches at lunchtime, read a book or meet your mates for a beer.”

The brands that will fill those spaces will be as exciting and varied as KAMPUS itself with as many independents and trailblazers as possible.

Brady says: “The commercial and outdoor space will set the tone for KAMPUS, so we’ve been handpicking operators who really understand the eclectic community we’re looking to create. It’s about curating the right mix of events and places for people to hang out, whether that means curious pop-ups at the Bungalow or music and art events in the commercial space.”

But designing a place that celebrates inclusivity wouldn’t be complete without open spaces, and KAMPUS offers just that with a secret garden at its heart.

Higgins says: “We almost wanted to create something post-apocalyptic, with an overgrown garden and towering trees. We loved the idea of bringing greenery back into the city and were inspired by places like the High Line in New York. The garden is hidden away in the centre of KAMPUS so you almost stumble across it. Quite often public space is an afterthought with some cold and harsh granite which might be low maintenance but isn’t creating a space that people want to use. We wanted something much softer and greener where people can chill out – an oasis in the heart of the city.”

Higgins explains how the scheme was also influenced by its neighbours on Canal Street. “The site’s been empty for years and arguably a drag on the Gay Village,” Higgins says. “We’re basically opening up the other side of the canal so when you’re sat having a beer on Canal Street you’ll no longer be looking over some dirty, drab car park but a thriving new neighbourhood.”

Brady added: “We’ve been talking to Canal Street since the beginning to make sure we complement what they have to offer,” Brady adds. “It’s one of the few places in the City where you can sit and have a beer in the sunshine and they’ve really nailed that European vibe.”

So, what is it that’s going to make KAMPUS really special? Brady smiles and says: “It might sound glib, but it’s got it all. Amazing location, beautiful buildings and tons of outdoor space. What more could you want?!”

Higgins sums up: “It’ll be a proper community full of character and diversity and unlike anything else Manchester has to offer.”

Want to know more about trading or living at Kampus? Contact us at info@kampus-mcr.co.uk


KAMPUS is coming…and here’s what we’ve been up to!

Minto & Turner and Minshull House

Everyday we’re uncovering little pieces of history as we lovingly restore our two listed Victorian shipping warehouses, removing decades of dirt and layers of paint. We’re keeping what we can, exposing the original brickwork and cast-iron columns. As we’ve stripped them back you can see echoes of their industrial past with the cast iron hydraulic packing press and ornate cast iron weighing machine still intact.

The Stack

A great example of how 1960s architecture can be beautiful. The tower has been stripped right back, the old façade and ‘70s suspended ceilings have gone to reveal the awesome waffle slabs which we are exposing where we can as a striking design feature in the new apartments. We’re just finishing the steel frame on the top which pops on another three floors.

Dutch houses

Alongside the buildings we’re keeping we’ve also got two new towers. When it came to decide what went on top, creating some flashy penthouses didn’t feel right to us. We’re right next to Canal Street, with its collection of different sized and styled buildings, all with different roofscapes. We wanted to create something that reflected this eclectic architecture, so that’s how we ended up with the Dutch Houses. A rooftop village inspired by its surroundings and like something you might find in Amsterdam. With four apartments in each house these are going to be some of Manchester’s quirkiest new homes!

Want to know more about trading or living at Kampus? Contact us at info@kampus-mcr.co.uk


Growing pains: How Manchester’s changing tastes are shaping the city’s neighbourhoods

MANCHESTER’s buzzing dining scene can seem turbulent at times – with a revolving door of closures and openings. It’s all part of an evolving destination city, argues Henry Boot Developments’ Adam Brady.

Whispers of saturation have been circling the city in recent months, as several closures have grabbed headlines. Whether high-end or high street, the departures from Manchester’s dining scene have been swift and noticeable.

And yet, demand is growing. Rather than saturation, I’d argue it’s the evolution of the city scene and rapidly changing tastes. To understand what is driving consumers, we need to understand our city – both today and in the future. This is all the more important if we’re going to create vibrant new neighbourhoods that will be successful for decades to come, like KAMPUS.

The number of city centre dwellers is a spiralling trend not expected to slow. Forecasts are that the count should hit around 60,000 by the end of this year, with new homes driving this figure to around 100,000 residents by 2025. But perhaps more interesting is the maturing of the city. While younger people still dominate as residents, there’s a greater proportion of 35 – 49-year-olds calling the city-centre home.

So the demand is there. And the type of consumer is clearly broadening. That brings with it opportunity for anyone who can get their offer right.

It’s been a perfect storm for some restaurateurs and big chains alike. Rising costs and business rates have all taken their toll to the point where doors have closed. Those who know the scene attribute some of this to the changing tastes among diners, with people drawn to smaller and more unique offerings, with a perception of better quality or unique experience.

Weathering this storm and leading from the front in Manchester are the regionals & independents. The likes of El Gato Negro, Bundobust and Rudy’s have carved out loyal followings, while the Mackie Mayor and a flux of microbreweries with bolt-on tap rooms are crammed with punters both day and night.

For us KAMPUS is a blank canvas and the challenge is to create something eclectic and unique that gives the city’s residents and visitors something to not only explore, but keep coming back to.

We’re not after destinations that will draw a crowd to the ‘now’ place to be, who’ll then depart in droves when the next new hangout comes along. We’re after a blend of businesses – whether that’s bars, restaurants, cafes or breweries – who will help us nurture a faithful family that know KAMPUS will offer them fun, quality and choice.

It is curation in its truest sense. Get one piece of the jigsaw wrong and the rest doesn’t hang together like it should. Get too many of one type of occupier and the place starts to look a little beige.

There are challenges to this approach. These types of outlets typically only plan a year or so in advance, rather than the 2-3 year expansion programmes of the big boys. But we’re sure it’ll be worth it. Rather than forcing a destination on Manchester, KAMPUS will be made in its own image, tastes and attitude.

Adam is a Director at Henry Boot Developments. Follow them on Twitter: @HenryBootDev