Engineering the future with Vandersanden bricks

  • 17 Jun 2022

Unrivalled in scale in the UK as a hub of engineering and material science expertise, the new Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) embraces the refurbished, Grade II listed Oddfellows Hall, the MEC Hall and buildings on Upper Brook Street and York Street. Brick played a crucial role in creating the campus and, to find the perfect products to fulfil their aesthetic vision, the architects turned to Vandersanden.

The new campus is one of the largest construction projects undertaken by any higher education institution in the UK. It will allow 1,300 staff and 7,000 students to work and study in spaces that enable connection, collaboration and concentration across the faculty.

Working with Mecanoo, Penoyre & Prasad and Balfour Beatty Construction, BDP provided detailed design consultation services for the entire MECD project. The collaborative team completed the sensitive renovation and extension of Oddfellows Hall to accommodate a suite of conference rooms, academic workspaces and a restaurant.

Berit brick

Originally built in 1857 and rebuilt in 1916, Oddfellows Hall anchors the new MECD to its formative past. Set back on the north side from the listed building, the modern extension presents a neat facade where Vandersanden’s Berit water struck facing brick, which is white with a light texture, is coupled with areas of glazing and tile. 


Paul Owen, architect associate at BDP, comments: “The approach to the scheme has been to add a twenty-first-century building of its time but in continuity with the existing language, using materials such as brick and glass.”

Configured horizontally, the elements wrap around the façade of the extension to create a strong connection to both the north and south facades of the older building. The aesthetic is enhanced further by a combination of narrow brick piers and vertically proportioned windows. A defined brick plinth at ground floor level achieves additional visual interconnection between the old and the new.

On the roof, the plant enclosure uses the same Vandersanden Berit brick as the façade, but the structure is set back from the parapet line. A hit and miss pattern allows for ventilation of the mechanical and electrical equipment inside as an elegant alternative to standard ventilation grilles.

On Upper Brook Street and York Street, the new buildings are of solid brick that includes feature brick vertical and horizontal elements to articulate the façade and frame the window openings. Again, the brick is from Vandersanden; in this case, the company’s Herning water struck brick with a dark brown-purple-blue multi-coloured appearance.


‘Great visual appeal’

Paul Owen adds: “The technical advice the team at Vandersanden gave was incredibly helpful while the bricks offer great visual appeal. In the long term, they will age gracefully in combination with the existing material of Oddfellows Hall, ensuring the new extension sits well in its context.”

For more information on the development go to For details on BDP visit, and to find out more on Berit, Herning and the wide range of high-quality bricks available from Vandersanden, visit

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