Beyond the Building: The Toast Rack

Name: The Hollings Building. Better known as The Toast Rack

Location: Manchester

Written by: James Flynn



The numbers: Designed by the city architect, Leonard Cecil Howitt, it’s a Modernist (although some architecture critics prefer the term Brutalist*) building in Fallowfield, Manchester. Its structure, which is seven storeys high, comprises a concrete frame with a brick infill on the bottom half of each storey.

What’s its history? The building was completed in 1960 as the Domestic Trades College and became part of Manchester Polytechnic – now Manchester Metropolitan University – until the closure of the “Hollings Campus” in 2013.

Any interesting facts? It was Grade II listed in April 1998 by English Heritage who describe the structure as, “a distinctive and memorable building which demonstrates this architect’s love of structural gymnastics in a dramatic way”.

And its future?  In 2018, The Gym Group turned part of the site into a state-of-the-art leisure facility. There are proposals in the pipeline to transform this undoubted modernist classic into a new futuristic space, housing flats, a restaurant, and a covered garden amongst other features.  You can read more here.

Do say: “What an incredible combination of almost avant-garde aesthetics and inspired functionality.”

Don’t say: “Why am I suddenly craving breakfast?”

Admiring the buildings of yesterday, supporting the real estate visionaries of today


*from a description for buildings largely made from unadorned concrete taken from Le Corbusier’s term “beton brut” (French for “raw concrete”), to a byword for something deemed literally brutal