Project Description

A 40m tall tower supporting and enclosing the five exhaust flues of a new Combined Heat and Power energy centre located in Manchester city centre. With its central city location, the need to create a flue tower with significant architectural merit was essential to the design brief. It uses the unique ‘Shell Lace’ structural technique, developed collaboratively between architects Tonkin Liu and Arup over more than a decade.

Judge’s comments

A 40m high chimney made of 6 to 8 mm thick sheet steel curved, welded and perforated to form a stiff-walled shell, that encloses five exhaust flues. Detailed buckling and dynamic assessments were used to optimise the shell geometry in order to minimise material use and ensure efficient fabrication and installation.

Clever and collaborative design results in a complex looking form with an elegant sculptural quality.  The structure provides a positive benefit for the residents of the city by supporting the provision of low-carbon energy to local public buildings, while simultaneously contributing to the architectural landscape.

Project overview

Structural Designer

  • Arup

Client Name

  • Manchester City Council


  • Manchester, UK


  • Tonkin Liu

Principal Contractor

  • Vital Energi

Key Contractors

  • Shawton Engineering – Steelwork Sub-contractor

    SEAM Design – Lighting Designer

    Cintel Structural Consultants – Structural Engineer for Foundations

Year Submitted

  • 2022

Key attributes

  • People, Profession

    Photography credits: David Valinsky