River Street Tower

River Street Tower

Proteus HR, Proteus GL, Proteus SC
Simpson Haugh architects

A new student accommodation development in Manchester has been hailed as a welcome addition to the city by the local authority, residents and visitors, thanks in part to a glistening facade created through the clever use of glass and metal cladding panels from Proteus Facades.

Designed by Simpson Haugh Architects and developed by Downing Construction, River Street Tower offers high quality, affordable student accommodation that comprises of three distinct structures. The largest reaches a colossal 32 storeys and sits alongside a second ten storey structure and a smaller five storey building.

Based in Manchester City Centre, River Street Tower is the latest in Downing’s portfolio of student accommodation properties and is situated in the First Street Neighbourhood, between River Street and Garwood Street, next to the Mancunian Way.

The development, which has successfully regenerated a dilapidated brownfield site that was previously considered to be a city eyesore, features Proteus GL 5mm glass panels with a RAL 5004 Dark-Blue finish. Installed on the external façade of the 32-storey building and across the inner courtyards, the panels were chosen as the dark-blue finish dances in the natural light, but without creating glare for nearby traffic and passers-by.

Architects Simpson Haugh also specified the Proteus GL panels as they have a EN13501 certified to A2-s1,d0 fire rating, which is in line with Downing Construction’s strict safety guidelines in all aspects of design and build – a key requirement for all buildings developed by the student accommodation specialist.

Sitting alongside other buildings in the development, the glass panels also provide a sleek contrast against Corten weathered steel rainscreen cladding which features on the external facing elevations of the connecting ten and five storey structures. These steel alloy panels, which forms a rust-like appearance over time, were chosen to provide a contextual connection with the copper shades featured on other buildings in the surrounding area.

Proteus Facades also fabricated Proteus SC 3mm aluminium profiled panels in a matching RAL 5004 Dark-Blue gloss finish for installation alongside the building’s windows. These panels incorporate hidden vents that provide a clever design-led way of improving air circulation within the building but without interrupting the quality aesthetics of the external façade.

The combination of matching dark-blue metal and glass cladding creates a layered, reflective sequence of surfaces that has been known to catch the eye of passers-by, who stop to admire the playful finish of the building’s surface. This blue, reflective finish also helps the building to blend in with the skyline too, reducing the monolithic appearance of the tower.

River Street Tower comprises of 791 student bed spaces that includes a mix of studios, clusters bedrooms and apartments as well as resident amenity space. It also features state-of-the-art onsite amenities such as a cinema room, private dining area, gym and gaming zone.

At ground level, where the student amenity spaces and associated plant and back of house spaces reside, Proteus HR natural anodised aluminium cladding panels feature on the base of the building forming an external inset wall and soffit. These panels were chosen to illuminate the walk-way leading onto the courtyards and off-street entrances and provide a lighter finish against the dark blue façade.

Installed by Alumet, each Proteus GL, SC and HR cladding panel is fixed to the Tower using a unique system of aluminium carriers and ancillary components, also manufactured by Proteus Facades. The system can be installed on to any type of wall construction and enables the panels to be easily hooked in place. This useful feature also means that individual panels can be removed to allow access for service and maintenance if ever required once the development is complete.


  • Glass Panels
  • Glass cladding
  • Soffit panels