OMI Architects has been around since 1993 and the firm is one of the leading design-led practices in the North West. Architect Directors Andy James and Nick Berry head up the practice’s 18 strong team of architects and graduates, all of whom are based in the former ‘Manchester Baths’, a RIBA Award-winning conversion of a Victorian swimming pool, where OMI has created a number of studios for the creative industries.
After only a few years in practice, OMI featured in the Architecture Foundation’s Publication ‘New Architects – A Guide to Britain’s Best Young Architectural Practices’. OMI has gone on to attract critical acclaim, with much of its work published in the architectural press. The quality of its work has also been recognised with a series of awards for design excellence including 11 national and regional RIBA Awards. OMI is known for a broad range of work including residential, museums and galleries, offices, churches, education, hotels, leisure, community and public buildings, many of which are within sensitive historic settings. In addition to its architecture output, the practice undertakes Feasibility Studies, Masterplanning, Interior Architecture, Design Guides, Graphics and Community Consultation.
The residential work ranges from large-scale city centre apartment schemes to affordable housing in some of the region’s most challenging communities. OMI has also developed expertise in specialist care provision for adults with complex needs. At Hulme, in Manchester, OMI were amongst the first architects to apply dense urban planning strategies to large-scale affordable inner-city residential schemes. Design principles were established at Hulme that have since become recognised as basic good practice for urban residential development throughout the UK. To date, OMI has built nearly 4000 homes and its recently completed Manchester apartment schemes at Greengate, Alto and Wilburn Wharf are now making their mark on the City’s skyline.
OMI cut its teeth on radical conversions of some of Manchester’s most important redundant heritage assets including Duke’s 92 and the Peoples History Museum. OMI has since moved on to complex heritage schemes involving some of the region’s most important Grade I and Grade II* Listed buildings, including All Souls, Bolton, which was named as RICS North West Building of the year in 2015. OMI’s projects have attracted nearly £30m in funding from public bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
When working with existing buildings, OMI achieve harmony and balance between the new and the old, injecting life into what are often tired structures that have lost their way. OMI combine a real sense of interaction, delight and fun, whilst still respecting the dignity of the buildings and places that they engage with.
In all its work OMI seek out the ingredients that make the difference between a successful building or place that has spirit and life and one that suffers from being soulless and alien to the people that use it.