The city centre has seen a revival in skyscraper construction as the Manchester expands at a rate not seen since the Industrial Revolution, and the city’s skyline is set to undergo a drastic change within the next few years.
As student accommodation, the New Wakefield Street development will provide much needed student accommodation for Manchester. The development overlooks Oxford Road to the East and the River Medlock to the south, but sits directly at track level facing the platforms to the north at Manchester Oxford Road.
The building façades are finished with glazing panels, and feature architecturally distinctive ‘cut-outs’ in the corners of the building. These highly reflective areas of the building raised concern for the rail operators, as intense sunlight reflection from them can become a serious safety issue. The approach to the station in both directions is also accompanied by several track signals, and sunlight that could be reflected onto the track may interfere with a train driver’s ability to interpret the signal correctly.
Q Sustain were approached by the developers Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd. to provide advice and consultancy on the design, and to identify any risks that the façade posed to track operation. Using Q Sustain’s 3-Phase methodology, the risk and location of reflections caused by the building, as well as the intensity and extent of the reflection glare, were evaluated.
Using a 3D Radiance model of the development placed into Arup’s City 3D model of Manchester city centre, a Sun-Path Analysis was performed to predict the sunlight reflection distribution from different viewpoints on the adjacent railway tracks, and to identify instances where reflections from the reflective elements had the potential to cause glare. A Reflection Assessment was then carried out to assess the magnitude, duration and visible effect of the reflections identified in the Sun-Path Analysis.
Q Sustain worked closely with the architect, developer and Network Rail’s Asset Protection team to complete the analysis to a high standard and ensure the safety of Network Rail’s assets and operations.
Extensive analysis determined that the building, while causing reflection onto the track at certain times of the day and at certain points of the year, did not cause reflections intense enough to pose a threat to safety on the railway, and did not require mitigations to be applied to the building. Q Sustain reviewed the results of this analysis with Network Rail’s Asset Protection Team at a Stage Gate Review meeting, which forms part of the 3-Phase analysis methodology, and presented the results in a report to the client.
Q Sustain Ltd provided support and informed advice to the project, stemming from their history and competency of assisting the design and implementation of trackside developments. Following the completion of this project, Network Rail’s Asset Protection team asked to feature Q Sustain’s work on this project as an exemplary glare analysis for developments near the railway.