In 2002, Her Majesty’s Courts Service held an international competition to choose an architect to design a new purpose built premises for the Department of Justice in the North West, the biggest court complex to be built in the UK since the Royal Courts of Justice. The building was obtained through the UK’s Public Private Partnership design. However, in a first for this type of procurement, the Lord Chancellor’s Department chose the designer independently of site and developer.
Manchester Civil Justice Center is testimony to what can be accomplished, regardless of site restrictions, in court buildings. There is a powerful sense of openness and transparency, indicative of the processes that are being undertaken within, as natural sunlight and city views deliver a backdrop to its functions. On the outside, its unique form of cantilevered fingers and environmental veil, has not only created a distinctive building for its users, but also a new urban marker for the city in which it resides. It has made a major contribution to the regrowth of the Spinningfields area of Manchester.
Photograph: Tim Griffith