Harsco helps Manchester student castle development


The creation of a new, iconic development in the heart of Manchester’s vibrant student district has been aided with an innovative double-decked mechanical access solution from Harsco Infrastructure.

Working with main contractor Shepherd Construction Ltd on the prestigious Student Castle project, Harsco designed and supplied a bespoke system using solutions from its range of construction access equipment to provide access to all external elevations, allowing the architectural panels to be easily applied to the 31-storey student accommodation block.

The Student Castle, which towers over Manchester Oxford Road rail station from its Great Marlborough Street location, proved a complex building profile with variations in height, projections and recesses. Harsco’s team proposed the use of mast-climbing work platforms to provide clear, unobstructed access to all areas of the facade, while allowing the transport of materials to the working area to be unimpeded.

Harsco installed a mix of single and double masted platforms in 17 positions around the exterior of the building, with some reaching up to 100m in height. Of the 17 platforms, 6 were ‘double deck’, allowing two different operations to take place simultaneously with two independent platforms on the same mast. Several of the mast-climbing work platforms installed were mounted on roof areas at various points around the structure, requiring carefully engineered load-bearing support structures.

The team innovated further, with the introduction of a unique safety gate system. While most platform access solutions force the user to lower the whole platform to base level to enter and exit the platform, Harsco’s system allowed the team working on the Student Castle to access platforms from the upper floors of the building. As a result, the Shepherd team reported improved efficiency on the job thanks to increased speed of access to the working area.

Cameron Reid, UK Mechanical Access Director at Harsco, said:

“We pride ourselves on being able to provide innovative solutions to complex, interesting challenges and feel that we delivered the ideal solution to the Student Castle brief. The building is a unique design, meaning traditional access installations would have been difficult to use. By working closely with our partners on site and having a wide range of creative solutions open to us, we designed and installed a range of access solutions that proved successful.”