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Mecanoo to be replaced on Oldham Coliseum

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Mecanoo is to be replaced on the £27 million project to build a new home for Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Oldham Council is understood to be close to naming a new architect for the construction element of the scheme after turning down an offer from the Dutch practice to work on the next phase from its headquarters in Delft. 

Mecanoo has completed the initial design work for the theatre, a job it won in 2013, seeing off competition from Austin-Smith:Lord, Bennetts Associates, Haworth Tompkins, John McAslan & Partners, Levitt Bernstein and Purcell Miller Tritton. 

The AJ reported in November that Mecanoo had made five redundancies at its Manchester studio, reducing it to a skeleton staff. The practice also has an office in London.

Oldham Council leader Jean Stretton said: ‘Mecanoo informed us that they’re unable to resource the architectural services side of this project beyond the end of our initial contract with them.

‘Alongside our building contractors, Gilbert Ash, we’re currently looking at potential replacement practices to work with us on this exciting project.

‘We aim to have an alternative architect in place in early 2018 and we do not envisage any significant impact on project delivery at this stage.’

A Mecanoo spokesman said: ‘We finished the design work for the Oldham Coliseum, which has been approved and will be executed, and we did a good job supporting the council for four years.

‘When we started the project, we did not have a Manchester office – this came and grew as we took on work such as the Manchester Engineering Campus Development. When these projects ended last year we reduced the size of the office.

’We wanted to continue on Oldham, and said we could resource the novated element of the contract – supporting the contractor – using our experienced and eager team in Delft. But the contractor and the council reviewed the choice of architect for the novated services and decided to choose a company with more local delivery capacity.’

The council approved Mecanoo’s plans for the new theatre last summer. It will be built on Southgate Street car park and feature a 550-seat auditorium, a 170-seat studio theatre, a café and an outdoor terrace.

Backed by a £7.1 million National Lottery-funded capital grant from Arts Council England, the scheme will sit next to the Grade II-listed former Oldham Library and Art Gallery building, which is being transformed into a heritage centre.

Completion is scheduled for 2020.

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