Chips by Alsop Architects



British architect Will Alsop of Alsop Architects has completed a residential building called Chips in Manchester.


The eight-storey building, for developer Urban Splash, was conceived as "three fat chips stacked on top of each other."


Each "chip" is covered in text referring to the area's history.


The building forms part of Alsop's urban plan for the New Islington area of Manchester and contains 142 one, two and three bedroom apartments.


Above photographs by Christian Richters.


Here's some more information from Urban Splash:




Quirky, bold and robust, ‘Chips’ forms the first major development for the Alsop-designed masterplan for New Islington in Manchester. New Islington, Manchester’s Millennium Community, is situated between the Ashton and Rochdale canals on the Northern edge of Manchester City Centre. Launched in 2002, Alsop’s Strategic Framework for New Islington, lays out an exceptional place, modeled around new canal arms and an inspiring landscape.


Commissioned by Urban Splash in 2002, Chips presents the first new apartments for sale in New Islington was designed by Will Alsop whose building was inspired by three fat chips piled on top of one another. The ‘Chips’ building comprises three equal-height, long, thin new build masses (Chips) approximately 100m long by 14m wide stacked and staggered upon one another creating an elevated ground floor and eight levels comprising 142 one, two and three bedroom apartments. The building is clad in a composite wall faced with a cladding covered in newspaper print with text that echoes the industrial heritage of the Ancoats area.


The design provides a mix of living and studio units and commercial space within a single project. The project defines a quality of living by combining outstanding design with technological innovation while embracing key concepts of sustainability, integration into the urban landscape and the provision of inspirational and sensational apartment units. The building’s apartment types range from studio spaces to three bed apartments. There is also a variety of differing external balconies. The apartments are planned internally around a central ‘pod’ unit, housing the bathroom and kitchen areas. The apartments can be open plan or sub-divided by the use of large folding screens. It marks another significant milestone for New Islington, which will become even more of a community once the residents of Chips move into their apartments in 2009.


Urban Splash Ltd

Alsop Architects:
Will Alsop, Duncan Macaulay, Edward Norman, Caroline Koo, Bonny Yu

Martin Stockley Associates

Quartzelec and Fulcrum

Simon Fenton Partnership

Rawlings Consultancy Services Ltd

Grant Associates

Pinniger & Partners

Buro Happold

Urban Splash Build

Posted on Tuesday June 2nd 2009 at 12:04 am by Rachel Blunstone. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • matt

    “Each “chip” is covered in text referring to the area’s history.”
    that’s what i call contextual…


    Alright, now that’s a nice waterfront facade. What a cool game played with those three extended blocks.

  • jkl

    It looks like someone let interior designers loose on the exterior :(
    They could have at least used helvetica….


  • Gemma

    I live next to this building, and whilst I don’t mind the shape, I really dislike the writing on it and I think the cladding looks cheap, patchy, incomplete and a little like it has just been cobbled together.

    Some of the ideas for the regeneration of this area are brilliant, and I am really looking forward to seeing the area come to life again, but I think this particular building will look shoddy and dated too soon.

    I would be interested to see how the inside looks though. Particularly as from the outside the windows appear to be pretty small and I would be interested to see how much natural light the flats get.

  • LOW

    Hello MVRDV

  • mcmlxix

    While I like the concept of form, it’s clever and intriguing anyway, I cannot help but think that this project will be a net minus for the urban landscape. And although I’ve never been to Manchester, I echo Gemma’s concern. What’s clever today, can often be a tired joke tomorrow, and if the materials are cheap, then exponentially so.

    + for concept – – for articulation

  • How did they get this passed UK planning? Did they kill all the NIMBYS?


  • James

    super graphic? ekkkkkkk.

  • The general form of three stacked blocks is intriguing. The addition of typography competes too much with the seemingly random placement of windows. It begins to get cluttered and confusing and takes away from the interesting architectural elements.

  • garth n.

    this project makes my eyes sore.

  • DLO

    I saw this in the Architects Journal with interiors and floor plans. How come tenants in manchester don’t deserve outdoor space? Less than half the apartments seem to have balconies and those that there are barely fit a chair on. I’ve never come across a local authority that’s ok with that before, but then, for starchitects the rules are different aren’t they……

  • m

    Actually, the entire New Islington masterplan is mady by alsop architects – and defenitely worth taking a look at

    even when it is just for the rendering technique

    if the rest of the area will look like those renderings, this building would end up being pretty normal.

  • Stan

    I think it is a quite interesting project…These three horinzontals are very succesfull in terms of their controlled randomness and urban presence….The text is maybe a bit on top..but in general for me it is a very good

  • paul

    In repsonse to JKL, don’t blame it on the interior designers. Perhaps some interior designers should have designed it, instead of architects!

    At least then we might have ended up with something that was user centered, experience driven and more considered in its appearence.

    You don’t often see the architects wanting to live in the large scale ‘architectural gestures’ that they dream up. Instead, they often choose a nice Georgian house carefully remodelled and rennovated a good interior designer.

  • runningforasthma

    They forgot to add the shopping trolley and white lightning bottles to the canal renders…

  • Fatigued

    I actually kind of like it.

    On an unrelated note…

    Is it just me or do the three stacks look like they are engaging in some freaky architectural “love fest”….?

  • Andre

    Come on Alsop where’s the Blob?

  • PL

    yuk! what was the inspiration for the colour palette – smarties?

  • I have always had a weak spot for chips!

  • preettysandhu

    Fatigued, it isn’t just you, the three stacks do look like ‘they are engaging in some freaky architectural “love fest”…’ lol.
    Lovely movement feelings with stagnant structural lines and the different shaped windows, there is definitely some youthful free spiritedness involved….but not so much innocence…
    personally I liked it up till the point I realized it’s apartments for human residents presumably…
    It looks like it could be a great studio space to work in…but to live in… I would not, I’ve lived through a window cut into a texty billboard facade before while poor in manhattan and it felt silly, I moved to a brown stone in park slope & lived happily ever after for awhile.

  • Hagus

    “The addition of typography competes too much with the seemingly random placement of windows. It begins to get cluttered and confusing and takes away from the interesting architectural elements.” – unlikelymoose

    No it doesn’t. You’re just easily confused.

  • Looks interesting. Would love to see its context wether it fits with its neighbours or is overbearing which Isuspect will the case in this development.

    They could have go easy bwith the colours on the eye.

  • sorry for the typo errors; I suspect it will stick out like a sour thumb in its context. A better use of colours would go along way to help integrate it into its context despite its “conundrum” of windows!

  • architect-cum-food critic

    With respect to the sales brochure: where is ‘the best chip shop in town?’

  • freedom

    mind you, i like it.

  • ed

    I think Will Alsop is extremely talented. That is one of the reasons this building exists and why we are talking about it, for better or worse.

  • Andrea

    I’ve just agreed a lease on a two bed apartment at chips. Moving in in two weeks and can’t wait. When I first saw the building I was unsure, and thought it was a bit garish but I love it now! Love the lettering idea too – they spell out the names of local rivers and canals. I think its a cool idea and the inside of the building is great, the apartments are really quite big and finished to a high spec. There are floor to ceiling windows everywhere and the apartments feel very light and spacious. The whole place just feels really modern and funky. It seems to have a ‘young’ vibe but that suits me just fine! Trust me its very deceiving from the outside!

  • Raj

    I agree with Andrea. I am in a 3-bed and love the high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Its -1C outside but the flat retains heat and better yet catches the sun and heats up throughout the day without firing up the central heating.
    The rooms in my flat are huge and the long hallway breaks up the flat and gives a greater impression of space. The exposed concrete ceilings give the rooms a modern industrial feel consistent with Manchester’s past. The concrete also insulates against sound from the neighbours which is often a complaint when it comes to flat living.

    The flat is better finished then any of the other new developments such as the Greenquarter by Crosby homes eg. Vitra sink/toilet and Hans GroBe shower fittings. The CHPS heating system cannot have been cheap so I disagree with the cheap materials comment made somewhere above.

    • stè

      Hi, I’m writing an article about this building for an Italian magazine. Can somebody send me some picture of interior?