What are you looking for?


bold, characterful workspace for an evolving commercial world

This transformation of the disused Colgate Palmolive site and factory building in Salford Quays re-invented a difficult building with an award-winning and commercially successful scheme. The masterplan transformed the site into a modern centre for business, creativity and leisure with over 400,000ft2 of Grade A offices.

The vision for a design-led and deliverable solution was developed within a challenging economic climate and was the result of a highly collaborative client/design team partnership. Located within the boundary of Manchester’s Media City UK site, and minutes form Manchester’s city centre, the site and building was purchased in 2007 at the height of the recession. An invited architectural competition was held to stimulate new and innovative approaches to the site’s adaptation.


The Carlyle Group, Abstract Securities, Nikal




  • 25,083m2

Contract value:

£20.7 million




Won: 2016 BCO Regional

a unique opportunity for mixed-use adaptation and new build

shedkm’s winning scheme proposed a rationalisation of the existing buildings, together with new-build opportunities at both rooftop level and within the masterplan along the waterfront boundary. This approach offered an instant economic solution to re-use the factory’s inherent assets whilst maximising planning gain and value across the wider site. The Full Planning consent allowed an overlap in use in order to facilitate a range of ground floor amenities and potential further rooftop development as office, residential or hotel; generating a unique mixed-use opportunity suitable for adaptation for any market approach.

two phases of commercial buildings, created by local labour throughout the recession

Phase 1, The Boilerhouse, was completed in 2011 and saw the transformation of the smallest and oldest surviving structure on the site. Phase 02, completed in 2014, created around 200,000ft2 of Grade A offices with retail units and a central courtyard, opening up the waterfront aspect and reconnecting the neighbouring residential community to the canal side, previously inaccessible behind a protective site boundary wall.

Costs were kept to a minimum through the recession, retaining local labour and creating affordable workspace with the employment of local office workers upon completion. Phase 2 was delivered at a budget of £650/m2, offering remarkable value for such a transformation.

flexible offices for a variety of occupiers, within a revived setting

Key to the speculative delivery of this building was the ability to react to the market and create flexible workspace for small and large tenants as and when enquiries were received. The designed core layout accommodates all of the letting opportunities in terms of access and escape. This enabled the design team to work in tandem with the developer to create internal subdivisions reactive to market enquiries, all with connection to the dramatic and generous landlord circulation area which is central to the building’s re-branding and identity.

Unit sizes ranged from 2,000ft2 to 45,000ft2 per floor, with opportunities to link floors and/or take full block occupancy with dedicated reception and circulation strategies, thereby creating potential interest from a wide range of businesses from SME’s to large scale corporate occupiers.

The design strategy works from the scale of a quality individual workspace to the desirability of a boldly branded building set within a regenerated environment. Quality and characterful office space includes full height windows, lofty ceilings, an unrivalled setting and great links to public transport.

A new signature entrance and arrival space has been developed in tandem with the Ivy Wharf masterplan proposals and ambitions for new public realm connectivity to the wider area. The ground floor space forms a commercial environment with public access into the heart of the building, and an opportunity to move down to the waterfront via a landscaped, courtyard setting.

an atrium with views to the waterfront provides a focal point for tenants

The scheme has two entrances, united via an internal ‘street’. Level access is provided into the generously sized entrance foyer at the heart of the building. A glazed lift visible from the main entrance provides the main form of circulation to the upper floors and offers panoramic views. The main atrium space rises vertically to create a central circulation point for all building users, with constant visual reference through a glass wall to the waterfront. A new building spine runs the length of each floorplate, providing orientation and minimising horizontal circulation across the vast floor-plates.

The scheme preserves and rationalises the robust concrete frame and main brick facades of the existing structure to create an architecture which is sympathetic to but not constrained by the building’s heritage. Modern interventions are crisp and contemporary in their manufacture and ability to be maintained/replaced as required.

a breeam excellent building, with natural light and floor to ceiling heights

Soapworks was designed to meet modern office standards for energy efficiency and green credentials, targeting a 15% reduction in carbon emissions and an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating together with a ‘B’ for its Energy Performance Certificate. The building included features to minimise energy consumption, maximise occupant control of the internal environment and promote both good water and waste management. The embodied energy of the existing concrete encased steel frame was captured alongside newly specified materials to achieve the required Green Guide rating. Utilising the fabric of the existing structure, the scheme provides a unique Grade A working environment incorporating raised floors, comfort cooling and full height glazing. Spaces offer vast floorplates and impressive floor to ceiling heights, with a multitude of space configurations, flooded with natural light.

a chance to create a new ‘address building’ within the developing media city uk boundary

Vacant since being decommissioned, The Colgate Palmolive factory had once been an integral part of the local community, with a rich and colourful history. The reinvention of the existing building regenerates the site to provide a vibrant and exciting place once more, and delivers an economic boost to the local area. Soapworks provides an address to be proud of for its occupiers; a branded building with character and presence in the evolving Salford Quays area.