Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

OMA wins planning for reworked Manchester ‘Factory’ arts venue

  • 1 Comment

Rem Koolhaas’s practice OMA has won approval for its revised plans for a £111.6 million flexible art space in Manchester, dubbed The Factory

Original plans for the new permanent home for the Manchester International Festival on the site of the former Granada TV studios were approved in January 2017.

However, alterations were mooted in July last year, when the council approved an increase in the scheme’s budget of £1.6 million to ‘improve the appearance of the façade and to deliver an appropriately scaled orchestra pit’.

Resubmitted in May this year, the latest proposals include significant revisions to the main theatre with its exterior completely remodelled, its capacity reduced from 1,600 to 1,520 seats and the orchestra pit increased in size ’from 60 musicians at 1.5m² per person to 80 musicians at 1.6m² per person’.

The north and south elevations of the warehouse element were also ’modified to reflect the developed structural design, and to take in account the future use of the interior space’, with much of the glazing now removed.

The 13,750m² scheme will be the Dutch practice’s first publicly funded project in the UK and will straddle Water Street, punching through a Grade II-listed Colonnaded Railway Viaduct. 

According to the new plans, the ’structure penetrating the listed arches has been developed and modified, resulting in fewer penetrations to the listed fabric’.

Speaking earlier today (26 July) Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: ’Culture and creativity have a critical role to play in Manchester’s future success – not just by inspiring ideas and imaginations but through creating opportunities and jobs.

’The Factory will help take this to a whole new level and open up a new chapter in Manchester’s history of innovation.

People no longer need to move to London for the best cultural and creative roles

‘Not only will people no longer need to move to London for the best cultural and creative roles, it will give audiences from around the country and even the world another great reason to head here.’

In 2014, the government committed £78 million to the project, with Manchester City Council contributing the remaining funds. The project is also set to benefit from government funding of £9 million a year from 2018/19.

Backed by developer Allied London in partnership with the city council, the arts centre is part of the wider St John’s development masterplan, which will provide 2,400 homes, three hotels and commercial space in Manchester city centre.

Originally due to open its doors in 2019, the Factory project is now due to complete in the first quarter of 2020 and to be officially launched in September 2020.

OMA was selected ahead of a high-profile shortlist, including Zaha Hadid and Rafael Viñoly, to win the arts centre contest in 2015.

Oma factory evolution

Oma factory evolution

Evolution of theatre design

Project team

Architect OMA
Client Manchester City Council 
Development manager Allied London 
User group Manchester International Festival 
Project management Gardiner & Theobald
Structural engineers Buro Happold 
Services engineers BDP
Theatre consultant Charcoal Blue
Acoustic engineer Level Acoustics and Vibration 
Façade engineer Buro Happold 
People movement consultants Buro Happold (Interior), Crowd Dynamics (Exterior)
Transport consultant Vectos
Fire engineering WSP
Planning consultant Deloitte
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald 
Landscape architect Planit-IE
Construction Manager Laing O’Rourke 

Oma factory april 2018 elevation

Oma factory april 2018 elevation


View the revised planning application here

See the original proposals here

  • 1 Comment

Related files

Readers' comments (1)

  • Chris Roche

    Manchester "so much to answer for".
    As with the Legacy of George Best, arguably Manchester's second best cultural icon after Factory Records - "where did it all go wrong".

    Chris Roche / 11.04 Architects
    Design Consultants and Co-Originator "In the City" Manchester's International Music Convention.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more