Factory International, Manchester

Factory International, Manchester

Factory International will transform the former Granada Studios into a world-class cultural and arts venue in the heart of Manchester. It features The Hall, a large auditorium, and The Warehouse, a flexible multi-purpose space that is taller than four double-decker buses, longer than a jumbo jet and can accommodate 5,000 visitors.  

Alongside the two public events spaces are The Towers, which house the ground floor entrance foyer, five floors of office space and a plant room at the top of the building. Noise reduces productivity by 66% so when it came to specifying the soffit insulation for The Towers, the architect wanted a solution that would limit airborne sound transfer and reverberation. 

The insulation would be on display, so aesthetics were also important and, because Factory International will cater for large crowds of people, the chosen solution needed to be non-combustible.  

Meeting the brief 

The architects specified Knauf Insulation’s 50mm Heraklith® Tektalan A2 SmartTec for the soffit insulation in the ground floor foyer of the Warehouse area, main feature staircase, offices and plant room of The Towers.  

Heraklith® Tektalan A2 SmartTec is a cement-bonded wood wool panel combined with a rock mineral wool insulation core. Both materials have an open structure that naturally absorbs the kinetic energy of sound waves, turning them into heat. It is also non-combustible with a Euroclass A2-s1,d0 reaction to fire classification. 

Heraklith® wood wool panels are designed to be visible, featuring bevelled edges and an intricately textured surface. Panels come in a ‘nature tone’ as standard but can be ordered in any RAL colour upon request to create a stylish, uniform finish.  

To complement the design schemes in the different zones across the building, contractors Mansell Building Solutions, ordered the panels in a combination of colours: midnight blue, pebble grey, anthracite and black.  

Scheduling deliveries 

As the Factory International site is quite compact, there was little room available for storage. Knauf Insulation worked closely with distributor Encon Insulation to ensure the insulation was held in stock. Smaller deliveries were then made in line with Mansell Building Solutions’ schedule of works. This ensured that the insulation could be installed as soon as it arrived on site. 

The product is quick and easy to install. Panels are fixed into position by installing Heraklith® DDS Plus Concrete Screws into the corners and centre of each panel. The fastener heads have a patented wood wool texture to enhance the finished appearance.  

Installing Heraklith® Tektalan A2 SmartTec onto the soffits in The Towers and the ground floor foyer of the Warehouse complements the design scheme, contributes to fire safety and means the team behind the events at Factory International can enjoy a quieter working environment. 

Client Mansell Building Solutions