Fun factory: OMA win major commission in Manchester

Fun factory: OMA win major commission in Manchester

The regeneration of a 25-acre brownfield site in Manchester has been given an international boost, with the release of OMA’s winning designs for a new arts venue. The £110m venue, called The Manchester Factory, will sit in the St John’s neighbourhood, formerly a cluster of railway sidings and goods yards, and the location of Granada TV Studios.

Pritzker Prizer-winner Rem Koolhaas envisages a raised glazed cube with a vast stairway leading up to a sliding door. Attached to one side of the entranceway is a white, many-angled block.

’The Factory will be large enough and flexible enough to allow more than one new work of significant scale to be shown and/or created at the same time,’ say the developers, Allied London. Combined audiences of up to 7,000 will be accommodated. 

It is intended as a significant new cultural venue in England’s second most visited city, and will form part of the Government’s aim to create a Northern Powerhouse. Its name is derived from the city’s eponymous record label, but will also remind arts lovers with longer memories of Andy Warhol’s studio. 

OMA has a strong track record in the arts. Its Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow completed earlier this year, and the Taipei Performing Arts Centre, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, and Faena Arts Centre in Miami are in the pipeline.

Allied London has ambitious plans for St John’s as ’a new neighbourhood for people to live, work, create and experience with residential, workspace, hotels, independent food and drink, extensive public realm and open green spaces.’ To this end the old Granada TV Studios by Ralph Tubbs - best known for his work on the 1951 Festival of Britain - is being turned into an ’event hotel’ with performance spaces by architects Levitt Bernstein.

The Factory’s construction is due to start next year, with completion slated for 2019.

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