Waterproofing behind a Digital Media Screen - PCA Project of the Year

In 2015 we received a somewhat unique request, to assist in the removal of glazing from the facade of a building, so that an outdoor digital screen could be integrated into the building. We were asked to design and construct the new weatherline of the building behind the screen. We were apparently referred on the project by Gary Neville after completing the waterproofing at the Old Trafford Supporters Club (Hotel Football) in Manchester.

A world first project requiring highly bespoke waterproofing design

Job type:


Removing the glazed facade of a building to fit a curved digital media screen (for advertising) above the busiest shopping street in Manchester.

Removing the glass to attach the screen allows rainwater ingress behind the screen.

Trace designed and re-constructed the waterproof line of the building behind the screen, including insulation and vapour barrier to comply with building regulations. Waterproofing materials employed had to have fire testing certification.

Working with Eckersley O’Callaghan – Structural Engineers specialising in glass structures (see Apple stores worldwide).

The Property

Innovators at a company called MediaCo, looked for a way to install a digital screen, to the Arndale Centre where this spans over Market Street in Manchester.

They rejected proposals to bolt the screen to a steel frame on the outside of the building, on account of aesthetics.  They wanted the screen to become part of the building.

Ian Simpson (of Simpson Hough Architects) referred MediaCo to a specialist facades engineering firm (Eckersley O’Callaghan), the company that designs all of Apple's glass structures throughout the world (see below).

Eckersley O’Callaghan said, if the digital screen weighs less than the glass, remove the glass and attach the screen to the glazing frame, and so it progressed on that basis.

Before any works - completely open at the top, to the Arndale food court, this had to be closed off to facilitate proposed works.

The Engineers produced a design intent in respect of what would be formed. We adopted this and produced a detailed design:

Section through the screen / weatherline at high level.

Logistically it was not an easy scheme and wehad to be flexible to achieve that which was required, some of the difficultyentailed:

 ×          Access to the Arndale back of house via security on each visit, this being stringent following the 1996 IRA bomb, which went off next to the Arndale.

×          Materials had to be stored in the work area (could not use corridor external of work area)

×          Moving materials to site -  go through security check-in, drive around service road beneath centre, up service lift and then through corridors to work area.

×          No noisy works allowed until after 9pm (during initial night-works).

×          Night-works – difficult for staff having to load up before/after shifts, late night site visits required.

×          Concern over smells and limitations ontreating cut timber ends – undertaken off-site as far as viable.

 Notwithstanding this, I/we love interestingand challenging projects and this was definitely one of them.  

We could not have successfully completed this project without a flexible and proactive contractor, able to continuously deliver results under pressure in what were often difficult working conditions.  When issues arose Trace assisted wherever they could, including where those issues did not fall directly within their remit. I would have no hesitation in recommending Trace to prospective clients

Joe Arshed

We Are Approved & Accredited By

let's talk