High standard of design award for Manchester’s Tower of Light

We’re delighted to announce that the Tower of Light has won the High Standard of Design Award at the Structural Steel Design Awards 2022.

In their 54th year, the Structural Steel Design Awards celebrate the excellence of steel construction in the UK, particularly demonstrating its potential in terms of efficiency, cost effectiveness, aesthetics, sustainability, and innovation.

Owned by Manchester City Council and built by Vital Energi alongside Shawton Engineering, the focal point of the Civic Quarter Heat Network, which provides low-carbon heat and power to some of Manchester city centre’s most iconic buildings, is the 40m Tower of Light.

The sculptural landmark, which supports and encloses five flues, was designed by architects Tonkin Liu, and developed in collaboration with structural engineers at Arup.

The unique shell lace tower is built from 6 and 8mm thick flat steel sheets, which were tailored, laser-cut, then welded together to create a curved stiff strong surface. During the day, polished steel reflectors move in a wave-like motion in the wind to reflect sunlight into the tower's chambers, and during the night, LED lights directed at the polished reflectors create moving light.

This shell lace structure perfectly exemplifies the synthesis of striking architectural form, advanced engineering, iterative technical analysis (Grasshopper and LS Dyna) and craft-based fabrication. A superb example of how design can transform a utilitarian chimney into a piece of urban art, intelligently conceived and impressively executed.

The Judges,

Vital Energi’s Ashley Malin, Managing Director (Solutions), said:

“The Tower of Light is a striking landmark in the city centre and the most visible manifestation of the Civic Quarter Heat Network, which is reducing carbon emissions and supporting the Manchester’s transition to zero carbon by 2038. We’re really pleased that intricately designed tower has been recognised by the judges and awarded the High Standard of Design Award.”

Read more about the project here.