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Islington Wharf striking apartment tower with great views over Manchester

If you're driving on Great Ancoats Street or arriving or departing from Manchester Piccadilly Station, you'll notice glass and sandstone building of unusual design just east of the city centre. This is the tower of Islington Wharf, a residential development by Isis. In early March 2010, I got an opportunity to see inside the building and admire the views. These are my impresssions.

From the outside, the Islington Wharf tower has an intriguing profile. Like a gigantic origami creation, the frontage presents a variety of jutting angles and planes that change depending on the direction of view. As someone who likes to photograph architecture, I find it interesting that some of the vertical elements lean back by... I make it about 2.5 degrees, playing tricks with perspective.

Islington Wharf Manchester

The floor to ceiling windows are the most striking feature of the building. Many times I've looked up from my car in a traffic jam on Great Ancoats Street and imagined myself living in one of those apartments, working on a laptop or watching tv, whilst pausing every so often to check the view over the city.

Well, today I got to see what Islington Wharf and some of the apartments look like from the inside. All in all I was very impressed.

Unexpected angles, all mod cons
I saw several apartments of various sizes. They are all currently unoccupied and for sale. What they all have in common is a floor plan that's geometrically interesting, full of unexpected angles. They have fitted carpets in the bedrooms and wood floors elsewhere , as well as all the mod cons you'd expect from a new building.

Rooms have uneven shapes, with windows in the middle or lower part of the wall. From your bed or futon you can be woken up by the morning sun with a view over east Manchester.

Living spaces are large and airy, some with interesting nooks and crannies in one corner and those huge plate glass windows at the other.

Standing next the glass and looking down, it's like being in the Sears Tower Chicago, though not so high up. It's as if you are in a VIP observation room suspended high over Manchester. The constantly changing cityscape is your wallpaper. You don't need one of my canvases or photocollages, the real thing is at your feet.

Dizzy heights
Despite appearances, the windows and plate glass railings on the balconies are absolutely solid. But if you're not comfortable with dizzy heights and floor to ceiling glass, there are other apartments closer to the ground with smaller windows.

Over many years of living in Manchester, I've dreamed of living in an apartment like one of these. At the moment it's not practical for me but who knows?

Islington Wharf is located in the New Islington development area just to the east of Manchester city centre. It's next to the Ashton Canal, which passes under Great Ancoats Street next to Pollard St. People will be wondering what's happening here. It's true, development has been slowed due to the economic situation, but things are moving forward.

Right next to the building on the other side of the canal, work on the new Metrolink line through East Manchester is in progress. When that opens then New Islington will be connected by frequent trams to the city centre and points in all directions. Piccadilly Station is about 10 minutes walk away along the Ashton Canal, the Mancunian Way is around one minute by car.

Developer ISIS was set up by British Waterways. They have planned the development with sustainability in mind, and a proportion of the profits go towards regenerating the waterways.

Islington Wharf Manchester and Ashton Canal

Islington Wharf was designed by Broadway Malyan architects, and was completed in 2006.

Not a glass box
Unlike some other apartment developments I could mention, Islington Wharf is anything but a glass box. It's thoughtfully designed and futuristic with a touch of quirkiness, but is also a practical and convenient place to live. And if like me you love the Manchester skyline and views across the city, then this is one of the best places to be.

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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