DB3 Project

Celebrating the opening of Buxton Crescent Hotel: A chat with Matt Ganley

To celebrate the opening of historic Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel, we had a chat with our very own Matt Ganley, Head of Building Services at DB3 Manchester Studio, who has been part of this significant project from day one back in 2003.

Matt provides some fascinating insights, challenges and achievements of this multi-million-pound renovation of this luxurious Grade 1 listed Georgian hotel, which was originally build in 1780s but fell in disrepair and was closed for past 30 years.

Doors re-opened on 1st October and visitors can now enjoy a luxurious stay, grand dining and spa facilities, as well as three pools including a roof top pool, relaxation pool and refurbished Victorian thermal pool filled with heated Buxton mineral water.

Here is what we found out about how our team over the past 17 years revitalised this historic building.

How did DB3 get involved in the Buxton Crescent project?

The project was originally bid and won back on 2003 and we first surveyed the building in 2004, where I spent 3 weeks surveying the Hotel and crawling round the basement of the Natural baths to establish servicing principles for across the site.

At the time myself and colleagues worked for Building Services Partnership, which closed in 2011, but we took the project with us when joining DarntonB3 and forming the DB3 Manchester Studio.

What was our brief for the Buxton Crescent Hotel and Spa?

What was our brief for the Buxton Crescent Hotel and Spa?

Our role was to provide the full design under traditional duties for the MEP Building Services. We prepared a fully designed tender package to RIBA Stage 4 and then continued co-ordination through Stage 5 leading onto monitoring role on behalf of the client to ensure that the contractors installed the services in accordance with the employer’s requirements.

What challenges have we faced and how did we overcome them?

What challenges have we faced and how did we overcome them?

Working within a Grade 1 listed building and having to adapt design on a regular basis as the building fabric was opened up – co-ordination was key! Our involvement during the construction phase allowed us to undertake on site design changes and develop services with the contractor during the install.

What innovations were used?

What innovations were used?

The whole process for this scheme we consider innovative and extremely challenging. The building has many typical building services systems within but also contains bespoke designs for the building including Vacuum drainage, Mud separation drainage, drainage diversion systems to negate flooding, mineral water pools and mineral water heat reclamation.

The natural springs of Buxton emanate from beneath the Spa which Nestle capture the Spa building and transport the water to their factory outside of Buxton. As part of the Pool Filtration works there is branch supply that provide thermal spring water for filling the Pools within the Spa Hotel daily.

As the spring water is naturally warm we also designed and incorporated a system to harness this heat prior to it going offsite to the Nestle factory. This heat is used in preheating the domestic hot water for the Hotel. This was achieved by indirectly capturing the heat via a stainless steel plate heat exchanger. As the heat captured is considered low grade therefore we raise its temperature via a heat pump that takes the water from circa 10-20C and to 55C.

What are you most proud about?

What are you most proud about?

Simply being involved with a scheme of this magnitude and historical significance. It’s been a challenging project over the last few years but has been a significant learning curve in my own career and for fellow engineers involved along the way.

What have you learned from this project?

We have found when working on old buildings, particularly listed and unchartered buildings, you never know what surprises are around the corner and hidden within the structure! However on this scheme it is proven that no matter what the challenge it can be overcome.

Therefore an honest and clear dialogue between disciplines will ensure that the best holistic decisions are made not only for the short term but also ensuring that the building can be sustained as a heritage asset long into the future.

What is your personal highlight in this project?

Sounds a bit dismal to those not directly involved, but the plant rooms and distribution in and around the building were particularly challenging due to their location and constraints imposed by the building. We worked closely with Imtech to provide suitable drawings to enable them to fabricate majority of the plantroom install offsite. The finished plantroom  being a fitout that resembles the design drawing that is both functional and maintainable.

Which partners do we work with on this project?

As part of the design team we worked with Curious Architects and AECOM to co-ordinate the building services within the new and original structures. During site works we worked closely with Vinci and Imtech to continue the integration of the building services into the original structures.

What other projects are you working on?

What other projects are you working on?

We are currently working on a range of Sports and Leisure Schemes from Changing Pavilions to Leisure Centres. Outside of the Sports sector we are just nearing completion on Princes Foods Raw Materials Warehouse in Long Sutton and also been involved with Leeds City College Summer works programme for 2020.

We also have some MoD schemes ongoing with RAF bases in the East Midlands. Jobs starting on site currently include Helensburgh Leisure Centre in Scotland and we are undertaking NEC Supervisor role on Ripon Leisure Centre.


What kind of projects would your team love to get involved in next?

What kind of projects would your team love to get involved in next?

From our Manchester Studio we have extensive experience working on projects nationwide across all sectors including Education, Residential, Commercial, Industrial/Food , MoD Sites, Hospitality, Healthcare and Retail.

Having worked on many Sports and Leisure facilities, including the BMX Arena in Manchester prior to joining DB3, we would be keen on getting involved in more Sporting Arena type projects.  


Many thanks Matt and massive congratulations to our M&E team and everyone involved in the Buxton Crescent Hotel and Spa project, we couldn’t be prouder!


Date Published: 1 October 2020

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