Transformation of Foundation creates new gateway to Altrincham town centre

CGI of Foundation

Bruntwood and Trafford Council’s transformation of Foundation, the former Rackhams building, has passed a major development milestone as the removal of the site’s large bridge structures has created a new gateway to Altrincham’s thriving town centre.

The demolition of the bridges has opened up the space, adding more light and transforming the arrival experience into a reimagined environment.

The new gateway will connect the future attractive public realm, retail and leisure space to Altrincham Interchange, meaning the reimagined space will be well connected to excellent tram, train and bus links.

Plans to transform the former Rackhams building into Foundation as part of Bruntwood’s Pioneer development, and part of Bruntwood and Trafford Council’s wider £50m joint venture to transform Altrincham and Stretford town centres, were given the green light by councillors in January.

As the new heart of the Stamford Quarter, Foundation will bring a blend of workspace, retail and leisure to Altrincham. Bruntwood’s £200m Pioneer programme is creating the future of workspace design and innovation, centred on six key pillars: Biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology.

As with all Pioneer projects, the blend of workspace, retail and leisure will create a space that actively enhances work life balance and improves the wellbeing of its communities.

As part of this, a focus on biophilia, will be introduced through a 375 sq m living biophilic wall on the building’s external facade. This greenery will include 36,000 carefully selected plants grown in South Manchester, which will reduce the building’s carbon emissions while also creating a habitat for wildlife, equivalent to native scrubland and meadows found in and around Greater Manchester.

Bruntwood has also just announced its plans to use innovative air quality and biodiversity sensing technologies created via local company, I WANT PLANTS as part of its research partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. This will also provide vital information for Bruntwood, enabling it to monitor and improve the environmental impact.

Additional sustainability measures will also be taken, including limiting the embodied carbon emissions during construction by retaining and reusing the existing structure.

Foundation has been designed to create a thriving workspace and lifestyle anchor for the town centre, where people can work, meet and socialise. Its hospitality offering will spill out onto Stamford Square, providing a destination for the community and a vibrant hub of activity from day to night.

The project includes a complete reimagination of the old department store, including the transformation of 50,000 sq ft of commercial workspace and 25,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space. This redesign of the ground floor will offer a welcoming arrival experience, and provide hospitality with a cafe, host, restaurant and bar offering, and retail. The development will include a flexible coworking space to provide a workspace environment for freelancers and start-ups wishing to work in the town centre.

A new two-storey extension will also create an indoor-outdoor work and lifestyle experience.

Andrea George, town centre and consumer brands director at Bruntwood, said: “Foundation is our first regional Pioneer scheme in a town centre, and will be a truly best-in-class experience.

“As a Pioneer building, there will be significant focus on wellbeing and amenity as well as a drive towards significant sustainability measures.

“It’s hugely exciting to pass this development milestone, which has opened up the former site to create a new gateway to Altrincham town centre. It marks the next stage of reinvesting in the building and creating a reimagined, reborn and reconnected town centre, and we’ve already seen a lot of interest in the workspace and retail space at Foundation ahead of the project’s completion.”

Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “Altrincham is an award-winning destination for business, retail and hospitality operators.

“It’s vital we harness this success and support the sustainable growth of the local economy. This latest milestone in the reimagination of the former Rackhams building is a landmark step towards creating a modern, successful and connected town centre for the future.”