Sustainable solutions contributes to revamping Manchester skyline

The project

Set within the northern Manchester suburbs, Collyhurst is an economically rundown area that houses some of the most deprived communities in the country.

The region has experienced considerable population loss since the 1950s, due to decline in employment caused by loss of manufacturing industries and the development of investment and employment locations elsewhere in the city. Collyhurst consists of four 13-storey council-owned tower blocks, including Humphries, Roach, Mossbrook and Vauxhall Court, all of which date back to 1960s. Forming part of the major regeneration scheme, social housing provider, Northwards Housing gained funding through the Decent Homes programme and ECO, and worked with main contractor, Manchester Working Ltd to provide thermally efficient and aesthetically pleasing buildings that will deliver long term benefits and build a sense of place for its residents.

The Challenge

The old and dilapidated blocks required new windows, balcony enclosures, roof coverings, structural repairs and several other home improvements to combat prevailing structural and thermal issues. The residents were living in fuel poverty and experiencing poor air quality and noise pollution. To combat these issues, the contractor looked to complete an intensive upgrade of building envelope in terms of design, aesthetics and thermal performance. The buildings posed a challenge as they were leaning and twisting.

The ROCKWOOL Solution

Manchester Working Ltd worked with sub-contractor, Astley Facades to develop a solution to insulate the residential blocks. A combination of several ROCKWOOL insulation systems were specified, including ROCKWOOL BrickShield® system, REDArt® Silicone render system and ROCKPANEL cladding façade system.

Developed specifically for the renovation of existing buildings, ROCKWOOL BrickShield® was specified to enhance the thermal performance and building appearance. The BrickShield® insulation board was bonded to the exterior face of the wall, and mechanically fixed using Insulating Wall Anchors. BrickShield® Natural Clay Brick Slips from Ibstock were then site-bonded to the insulation, with joints pointed for a traditional brick appearance finish.

Offering triple value, the REDArt® Silicone EWI System is renowned for its thermal performance, fire protection and provides an attractive exterior for refurbishment projects. In addition to reducing fuel poverty, the REDArt® rendering solution has been developed to be installed on a wide range of substrates and wall construction types. This enabled Manchester Working Ltd to fix the insulation onto the external wall quickly and easily.

Rockpanel boards were not solely specified for the aesthetic benefits its products can offer, but also their sustainable credentials. Paul Maidment, Head of Home Improvements at Northwards Housing discussed the project approach: “As champions of the green agenda, it was important that all products met our sustainability requirements. We prepared a short report on the Rockpanel product range and were impressed with the excellent Green Guide ratings they could offer. In addition, the hard wearing, low maintenance design of the Rockpanel Chameleon should help to minimise whole life costs.”


Thermal efficiency was paramount for the refurbishment of the blocks. Our solutions have proved to be successful in significantly improving the insulation performance and reducing heating bills.

Rockpanel and ROCKWOOL spent three days with tenants going through the benefits of the thermal upgrade, as well as looking at the choices of the various finishes that were on offer for the facades. Computer Generated Images were created and printed onto mood boards with samples of the different products to help tenants to visualise how their building might look. This helped to engage the tenants’ interest in selecting the finish they wanted for the tower blocks they live in and improved the aesthetic appearance of these blocks, making a positive contribution to the suburban fabric of the city, reviving demand and boosting the local economy.

Manchester, UK

Project location

M8 8EP
United Kingdom

Collyhurst houses, Manchester, Rockpanel chameleon. Only B2 fire rated boards


Project Participants

ClientNorthwards Housing
ArchitectNorthwards Housing
Main contractorManchester Working Ltd. (Mears)
SubcontractorAstley Facades
Exterior claddingRockpanel
InsulationROCKWOOL – REDArt system