This post is over a year old, but your idea definitely makes sense. I arrived at the following plan by looking at other's hard plumbed systems and removing the pipe connections between the valves. I'm planning on using silicone tubing and QDs instead of piping, so I was looking to reduce the number of connections.
I've drawn it out a few times, and its basically a manifold made up of Tees, Crosses, and Ball Valves. I'm still pricing everything out, so the cost may prove to be too high. I've also looked at constructing it from several 3-way valves, but at $40 a piece, it looks like building it from ball valves and fittings might work out cheaper.
There will be two manifolds, one for the drain side, and one for the return side. The drain side will basically be 5 ball valves, connected in whatever way is cheapest. Currently I'm thinking that will be 3 Tees and ball valves, or 1 Cross and 1 Tee and ball valves. (TTT), or (T+)
The return side will be 6 ball valves, again connected in the cheapest way I can find. I'm thinking that will be 2 Tees and a Cross, or two Crosses connected together. (TT+) or (++)
I've also started looking for pre-made valve manifolds that will do the trick, but so far I've only found ones made for PEX, which I could adapt to work with my camlocks. It all just depends on what option is more cost effective, and what material it's made of. I'd like to do all stainless.
My brew stand will be a single tier with two pumps, with the mash tun in the middle. I'm going to try to use my counterflow chiller as a HEX for HERMS, and then again for cooling after the boil. I'll have to test that out to make sure it works. The manifolds will be mounted to the frame, one in front of and one above the mash tun. I can probably reduce the number of valves needed, but I wanted to avoid moving hoses around during the brew day.