There was a tree strapped to a roof in New Islington yesterday – this is why

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If you were in New Islington yesterday and happened to notice a tree strapped to the top of Urban Splash’s new sustainable Mansion House apartment complex, you weren’t going mad – you just witnessed a traditional “topping out” ceremony.

Typically performed by workers once they’ve completed a project, the age-old tradition of placing a tree on the building and toasting the success with a beer is said to date back to way before the birth of Christ.

Where the tradition first began is wildly disputed, but some maintain it dates back to ancient Egyptian times. Records show a tree was placed on top of the first pyramid as a symbol of everlasting life by workers to commemorate those that had died in construction.

“The tree is symbolic of the incredible design, construction, people and materials that have been used to create these exciting modular homes,” said Jonathan Falkingham at Urban Splash.

“It’s long been a construction convention to place a tree on the roof of a new building, followed by a celebratory beer or two and we’re happy we’ve brought this back to Manchester.”

The ceremony was a first for Manchester, taking place to commemorate Urban Splash’s newly finished waterside apartments at New Islington Marina.

Attendees braved the traditional Manchester rain to enjoy expansive views over the city, tucking into beers and pintxos in celebration.

Created offsite in a factory in Bilbao, each building is created as a series of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels – a much more sustainable material than traditional options like steel and concrete.

From its beginnings in Northern Spain, where the Radiata pine is grown in sustainable forests with PEFC certification, the wood has its own passport which advises which area and year it comes from.

Transported to the UK and assembled here in Manchester by a small, specialised team and local construction partners Artez, the exposed CLT gives the homes a unique look. It also helps to keep waste to a minimum and ensure accuracy.

It forms the main structure as well as the internal walls and ceilings, providing a stunning aesthetic and providing a highly rated insulation performance throughout the year.

Boasting dual-aspect views over the Marina and New Islington’s Cotton Field Park, these environmentally innovative homes sit at the heart of the area’s ongoing regeneration.

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