Case Studies

Square Gardens, Manchester

Project:                           Square Gardens, Manchester 
Sector:                            Co-living
Client:                             Downing
Main Contractor:            Downing
Architect:                        Simpson Haugh
Pod Type:                        Enhanced GRP 
Number of pods:            circa 1,500 GRP shower pods

The Project

Square Gardens is a £400m co-living scheme in Manchester developed and built by Downing, which will provide new homes for rent – a mix of private studios to five-bedroom apartments. This is Downing’s first co-living scheme.

Due for completion in 2024, Square Gardens aims to simplify and improve residents’ experience of living in the city centre by providing a quality place to live that is not only affordable, secure and convenient but creates a vibrant new connected community.

The Bathroom Pod Solution

Two contracts totalling £5m for nearly 1,500 bathroom pods were awarded to Offsite Solutions. This project is the first application of our new large format tile-effect finish for our GRP bathroom pods.

We have worked on more than 20 Downing projects since 2013, involving the manufacture of nearly 10,000 pods to date in contracts worth over £23m.

Floorless Pods to Minimise Floor Build-up

We are manufacturing 1,487 GRP shower rooms and ensuite bathrooms for towers A, B and block D up to the 17th storey. All the pods are being supplied floorless – a highly efficient solution to minimise floor build-up on high-rise apartment projects.

GRP pod technology continues to advance and we have now developed a series of new aesthetic options and features that developers can specify to further enhance tenant appeal in the shared living space.

Our teams can also engineer standardised designs that can be rolled out on multiple schemes – as we have done for many years with Downing – further increasing the efficiency of construction and optimising all the benefits of offsite manufacturing.

Pods Designed to Reduce Operating Costs for Retained Assets

Over the life of GRP pods, we estimate that the operating cost saving is at least 90 per cent more than in-situ bathroom construction.

Our expanded range of finishes has been developed to widen the scope of factory-finished GRP shower rooms and bathrooms specifically for the build-to-rent sector. This option significantly reduces maintenance costs by removing the need for porcelain tiles and grout lines to the wet areas.

Design Features

All the pods for Square Gardens feature our new large format tile-effect finish in matt white.

The larger shower rooms for Square Gardens will have a 1.7m long shower with a sliding door and wall-mounted thermostatic shower.

The pods will be fitted out in the factory with:

  • A three-door mirrored wall cabinet
  • Bar tower rail
  • LED lighting
  • Wall hung toilet
  • Rectangular wall-mounted hand basin
  • Pearl white solid surface vanity top.

The ensuite shower pods will have a 780mm shower with a pivot door and a single mirrored wall cabinet.

The Customer Perspective

Andy Thomas, Operations Director, Downing:

“Manufacturing bathrooms offsite gives us a huge benefit in terms of programme, reduction of waste on site and certainty in quality.  Our demand for pods is pretty high once the internal fitout process starts on site, so keeping up with our programme is absolutely critical for Downing.”

“Pod technology continues to advance. At Square Gardens we are utilising new higher specification GRP finishes and floorless pods. We are happy with the level of quality and finish that Offsite Solutions achieves with its bathroom pods for Downing and have a good relationship with their organisation at every level.”


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