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Dutch stars Mecanoo lined up for new Manchester arts venue

Mecanoo has won the international competition to design a £19 million new joint home in Manchester City Centre for The Cornerhouse cinema and the Library Theatre Company

It is understood the outfit saw off teams led by Austin-Smith Lord, Bennetts Associates and RHWL Arts Team which had earlier come up with ‘a functional model and outline design concept’ (pictured) for the cultural centre within ASK’s First Street development.

Mecanoo has yet to draw up its detailed designs for the project which will house 600m² of gallery space, a 500-seat theatre, studios, an outdoor performance space as well as a café and back of house facilities.

The Dutch practice, which is led by founding partner Francine Houben, is currently working on Birmingham’s huge new library.

Houben said: ‘It’s an exciting challenge for us to design the new cultural facility in such a way that it will be a catalyst for First Street and create a complex which will interweave with the surroundings of Manchester.’

Detailed design work will now begin with a view to starting on site in summer 2012. It is anticipated the new facility will open in spring 2014.

Previous story (AJ 24.11.2010)

Contest to be launched for new Manchester arts venue

The Cornerhouse cinema and the Library Theatre Company will hold an international competition to design a new joint home in Manchester City Centre

The £19 million ‘major new cultural facility and cultural hub’ on the northern side of First Street will house 600m² of gallery space, a 500-seat theatre, studios, an outdoor performance space as well as a café and back of house facilities.

According to Manchester city Council, the scheme is already ‘fully-funded’ with £16 million already ringfenced as part of the Library Theatre relocation deal - it was originally housed in the soon-to-be refurbished town hall complex - and the remaining £3 million coming from third party contributions and future capital receipts.

An initial ‘functional model and outline design concept’ (pictured) has been drawn up by RHWL for developer ASK which is masterminding the larger redevelopment of the First Street site.

Previous plans worked up by Stephenson Bell to move the Library Theatre to the listed Theatre Royal, in Peter Street, were scrapped on the grounds of costs.

The move to the site ear the former Hacienda club on Whitworth Street West will lead to the potential redevelopment of the Cornerhouse’s current home near Oxford Road station.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, executive member for Culture and Leisure, said: ‘Manchester is committed to culture, something we see not as a luxury but as a necessity which creates jobs and other opportunities and is a fundamental part of attracting investors to our city, as well as being an inspiring end in itself.

‘These are extraordinarily exciting proposals which will unlock the regeneration of an important part of the city centre as well as creating a world-class new cultural attraction.

He added: ‘At a time when the arts world is experiencing many cuts, it’s fantastic that Manchester is leading the way by investing in our cultural economy.

‘Combining the undoubted strengths and growing audiences of Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company will allow the two companies to expand and flourish.’

The building could open in 2014.

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