Lancashire based Interior designers bringing space to life

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Manchester Arndale – Seating


Manchester Arndale is the largest inner-city shopping centre in the UK. Built in the 1960s and 1970s, it was redeveloped after the 1996 Manchester bombing. The centre sits opposite Selfridges and Harvey Nichols and is home to over 200 retailers and attracts over 40 million shoppers each year.

Manchester Arndale is undergoing an £11m transformation.  Halle Place, one area of the indoor shopping centre, is undergoing refurbishment to introduce nine ‘casual dining’ restaurants with al fresco style dining on the mall.

The seating project forms part of the transformation and responds to customers requesting places for shoppers and visitors to sit and rest.


One of the biggest complaints in the centre is that there is no were to sit in the shopping centre, unless you are buying a drink or food. The aim of this project was to provide “rest stops” for customers and visitors to the shopping centre.

Following a site visit and walk around, ten locations were identified, along with the following considerations for the design stage:

  • The seating will be viewed from all angles and should look interesting, appealing as well as practical.
  • It should be modular to enable your staff to move, as required, however, should not move when customers sit on it.
  • Consider back rests, arm rests and other forms of support as well as upholstered and non-upholstered options.
  • All materials used must be fire rated and robust. The design should adhere to all health and safety requirements for public seating.
  • Materials and finishes should complement those used elsewhere in the centre.


BWD have developed a modular seating system which includes optional artificial planters and trees to provide an ‘outside/in’ feel to the seating areas.  The seats are made up of standard lengths, however, can be configured as singles, doubles which can be placed back-to-back or as corner options as well as larger groups.

We chose to use Corian for the bases, planter, and tree units – to minimise maintenance.  The seat cushions and backs are detachable to allow for deep cleaning and/or colour amends, as required.

There are currently 13 seating units installed and customers and visitors find them a welcome introduction and very comfortable to sit on.