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Revealed: Mecanoo chosen for Oldham Coliseum job

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Mecanoo has fought off competition from a list of top architectural firms to be chosen for the new Coliseum Theatre and Heritage Centre in Oldham

Dutch firm Mecanoo, in partnership with Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture, has been chosen by Oldham Council for the landmark project from a short list which is understood to have included Austin-Smith:Lord, Bennetts Associates, Haworth Tompkins, John McAslan & Partners, Levitt Bernstein and Purcell Miller Tritton.

The scheme includes the refurbishment of the former Grade II-listed Oldham Library and Art Gallery building on Union Street.

Stephen Levrant, which worked on Manchester’s Victoria Train station, will provide specialist heritage advice.

It also involves the construction of a new theatre on the adjoining Southgate Street car park site.

The complex will include two auditoria of 600 and 250 seats, a heritage centre, galleries, archives, public research rooms, foyers, bars and meeting spaces.

The scheme will be jointly funded by the Local Authority, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Other UK projects by Mecanoo, which set up an office in Manchester in 2011, include the HOME Art and Culture House at First Street, Manchester, and the recently opened Library of Birmingham (AJ 27.09.13)

The council said that the finished project, which will be next to the forthcoming Metrolink line, would significantly improve the cultural offer of Oldham town centre and support its wider regeneration. Mecanoo have also committed to prioritise the local supply chain throughout the project.

The Coliseum project is part of wider plans to regenerate Oldham town centre.

Council leader Jim McMahon said: ‘When you put our plans for the Coliseum and the Heritage Centre alongside plans for the Old Town Hall to become a  cinema with restaurants and cafes you can see Oldham Council is deadly serious about providing facilities that attract a new kind of visitor here, and inspire a greater sense of pride  in our town centre.’

The remaining design team is in the process of being assembled and will be completed by end 2013.

Construction is due to start in 2016 subject to the confirmation of funding from the Arts Council and English Heritage.

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