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Modernising a piece of British history

James Rippon James Rippon
Albert Mill Industrial style houses by Donald Architecture Industrial
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Stepping away from the typical terrace, detached or semi-detached homes that make up the majority of the residential landscape, we want to show you something that bucks the trend of aspiring for a typical suburban home. Manchester is where you will find Albert Mill, one of the city's last converted mill buildings. The Grade II Listed Building built in the 19th century has been lovingly transformed into contemporary apartments, with each new shell of space left as a blank canvas for the new occupants to creatively design their own home. The apartment we want to show you is a design of Donald Architecture, a local firm from the rainy city, who have helped one new occupant to create a strikingly modern home, with strong references the buildings history.

Warehouse City

Manchester has been given an array of nicknames in the past, from Madchester in the 1980s thanks to Happy Mondays, to Gunchester, due to the rise in gun crime in the city during the 1990s. Relevant to Albert Mill, Manchester was also once referred to as Warehouse City, due to the large number of warehouses constructed in the 19th century, particularly concentrated in a square mile around the city centre. After the industrial revolution, the purpose of these warehouses changed, and were converted for a variety of different uses, many now residential.

The square mile

Having been described as the finest example of a Victorian commercial centre in the UK, the roughly 1800 warehouses that make up the square mile of central Manchester have helped the city to be on a tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Playing such an important part of industrial Britain, it was obligatory to recognise and conserve the buildings history, whilst still giving the home modern flair.

Representing the old & new

A distinct palette of brown, white and grey is immediately apparent: the timber floor and exposed brick representing the past, with contrasting stark white and grey representing the contemporary aspect of the design. Cast iron columns are also remnants of the buildings previous life, and have been kept to ensure an industrial touch is always present.


Partition walls and low ceilings keep the intimate rooms such as the bedroom cosy and comfortable, whilst the living spaces are more transparent and open plan. Well finished timber features on the flooring and for some of the interior walls, whilst a more rugged, natural finish of timber makes up the ceiling. Along with the exposed brick and polished cabinetry, these contrasts in material compositions add real texture and depth to an already characterful apartment.

Shrewdly designed

These strong, yet complementary contrasts continue in the bathroom, and although its small size, is entirely functional and admirable. A bathtub complete with recessed shelving hides behind modern shower fittings, and with the absence of shower walls or doors, cleverly feels much more roomy than it actually is. 

Want to see another atypical home that is modern and forward-thinking? Then check out this modern home to-go, which showcases why mobile homes are anything but drab.

What's your idea of a dream home? Let us know your ideas below.
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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