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OMA's £110m Manchester ‘Factory’ arts venue wins green light

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Manchester City Council has approved plans for a £110 million flexible art space, The Factory, by Rem Koolhaas’s practice OMA 

The 12,077m² scheme, on the site of the former Granada TV studios, is the Dutch practice’s first public project in the UK. 

The scheme, which will straddle Water Street, features a 7,000 capacity venue and involves alterations to the Grade II-listed Colonnaded Railway Viaduct. The arts centre will be the permanent home for the Manchester International Festival, currently spread across a number of venues in the city.

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.

According to the practice, the scheme will create nearly 1,500 full-time jobs and add £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade.

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. The building is set to complete in 2019.

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

OMA partner Ellen van Loon, who is in charge of the project, said: ‘Much of my professional life has been spent undoing limitations of the traditional typologies.

‘From classical opera and ballet to large-scale performances and experimental productions, [the] Factory in Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to create the ultimate versatile space in which art, theatre and music come together – a platform for a new cultural scene.’

City planners have already given the green light to a 51-storey building at St John’s Place designed by SimpsonHaugh and Partners on a neighbouring plot as part of the ongoing development of the former studios site.

The Manchester-based practice won a competition in 2014 to design the commercial and residential elements of the 370,000m² regeneration job.

Plan of oma's proposed factory in manchester

Plan of oma’s proposed factory in manchester


View the planning application here

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In terms of the quality of the return on public investment, the contrast with London's 'Garden Bridge' project is remarkable.

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