INCA Case Study: Albion Mills, Manchester


Albion Mills, Manchester

Project Type: Refurbishment

Building Type: High Rise, Residential

Architect: Thomason Consulting

System Designer: K Systems

Installer: QFF

System & Finish: Exicco M system

U-value Achieved: 0.28 W/m2k

Located in the Ancoats area of Manchester, Albion Works is one of New Islington’s largest developments. The eight-storey apartments range from studios to three-bedroom apartments, most with balconies overlooking a communal courtyard or key landmarks in Manchester.

Albion Works’ prime location close to the city centre made it an ideal choice for those who wanted to be within touching distance of the hustle and bustle without compromising on quality of life and home comforts.

However, unsafe cladding and dated exterior were barriers to creating demand for these properties. In fact, the property even received negative press coverage following residents’ discovery of the non-compliant EPS insulation type.

 Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd required a solution to rectify that quickly.

Aware of K Systems’ innate understanding of constructional excellence and longstanding reputation for delivering high calibre projects, Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd appointed K Systems to carry out a complete refurb and retrofit on the north west residential buildings, with four primary objectives:

  • Remediate unsafe non-AMC cladding to provide a safer living environment for residents
  • Remediate unsafe cladding to ensure Albion Mills was legally compliant with regulations for all high rise buildings across the UK
  • Deliver an improved thermal performance and aesthetic
  • Action the refurbishment with minimal upheaval or disruption to existing residents

In order to deliver the refurbishment of Albion Mills to an exceptional standard, K Systems partnered with QFF and Thomason Consulting.

Solution, Specification, Challenges and Results:

After a comprehensive scoping process taking into consideration client requirements, project objectives, budgets and timeframes, and with understanding that the Albion Mills complexes were high rise, steel framed, and multi-occupancy, K Systems recommended the industry-proven K Systems Exicco Cavity Drainage External Wall Insulation System for this project.

Original sheathing boards were replaced in the project and the Exicco M drained cavity façade system was installed. This high performing drained cavity system was specified as a requirement for this steel frame residential building and combined with 60mm mineral wool insulation in order to retain the line of the existing façade.

Fire safety with high rise buildings like Albion Works is of utmost importance and this solution generates high levels of fire resistance and non-combustibility (A2, s1-d0 rating), meaning the latest building regulations were complied with and the safety of residents was significantly improved – two primary objectives of the client.

Working closely with partners, K Systems also paid particular attention to firestopping and abutment details, creating bespoke solutions to meet the requirements of all parties.

Additionally, the thermal performance of the Albion Mills buildings improved with a U-value of 0.28W/m²K being achieved (up from 0.55/m2K). Residents will therefore enjoy reduced heating costs and better living conditions, therefore making the properties more attractive to renters / buyers, especially in today’s cost of living crisis.

For the finish, silicone thin coat render ensured that aesthetically Albion Works had a clean, crisp attractive appearance. This durable, low maintenance render completely transformed the outside of the building and will ensure a long- lasting finish to the property, resistant to external elements and weathering.

Perhaps one of the most important and unique, yet challenging, elements of the Albion Mills refurb and retrofit which made it such a success was the resident engagement element.

Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd had strict requirements that disruption to residents was to remain minimal and full transparency was to be offered following negative press coverage.

With a reputation for its customer centric approach, K Systems was able to deliver this and more for Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd. Resident liaison was prioritised at every phase of the build, with openness on materials and products acting as reassurance around safety and industry compliance, and regular updates on progress ensuring they knew what to expect and how long for.

This contributed to the 100% satisfaction levels garnered from Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd and existing residents’ feedback on project completion.

Completed Project

K Systems provided complete support throughout the application process for this Building Safety Fund project. The Technical team offered on-site technical and installation support throughout the build process and supported QFF to ensure quality and reliability.

From design advice through to installation, K Systems offered a partnership approach which aided a smooth installation process with minimal disruption, ticked all the requirement boxes of Albion Mills Maintenance Ltd, and achieved positive feedback from existing residents.

What were once unsafe, unattractive apartment blocks in one of Britain’s most popular cities, are now rejuvenated, revitalised residential buildings in high demand and exempt from any detrimental media coverage.


“Albion Mills was a particularly challenging project. The requirement was a full strip out of the existing cladding and remediation of the substrate. The residents were living in dangerous conditions and liaison with the residents was key. Delivery of the project required teams to work seamlessly together and have absolute trust in the other’s skill, vision, and judgement. That’s exactly what we had with K Systems, QFF and Thomasons on the Albion Mills project. In particular, the installation of the drained cavity system. The team’s innate understanding of pairing systems with finishes for optimal performance is second to none and together we delivered a best-in-class refurbishment which was an absolute pleasure.”

 Andrew Marsden, Design Manager, QFF (Quality Fast Facades)

Delivery of the project required teams to work seamlessly together and have absolute trust in the other’s skill, vision, and judgement. That’s exactly what we had with K Systems, QFF and Thomasons on the Albion Mills project.

Andrew Marsden

Design Manager , QFF - Quality Fast Facades

INCA Case Studies – view all INCA project case studies: