Rem Koolhaas To Design Arts Council Funded Manchester Factory Arts Venue

The government has agreed revenue funding of £9m per annum from 2018/19 as part of its spending review to fund the Rem Koolhaas designed ‘The Factory’ in Manchester, the city’s cutting-edge arts venue that will take a radically new approach to cultural production and performance. The project will be OMA’s first major public building in the UK. Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

The Factory will be a new kind of large-scale venue that captures the extraordinary creative vision and depth of Manchester’s cultural life. It will be a flagship cultural centre for the North and North West, commissioning original works in partnership with leading national and international organisations. The Factory will build on the success of the Manchester International Festival and create innovative commissions all year round, playing a significant role in the next phase of economic and cultural evolution in the North.  

The Factory will make and present a wide range of art forms and culture, incorporating theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, media and live relays, scientific advancements and the connections between all of these – under one roof. It will be an inspiring space where art is created, not just hosted. The Factory will be large enough and flexible enough to allow more than one new work of significant scale to be shown and/or created at the same time, accommodating combined audiences of up to 7,000. Construction is due to begin in 2016 with completion in 2019. 

OMA’s projects include the recently completed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (2015) the Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015) and the CCTV headquarters in Beijing.  In the UK their projects have included the headquarters for Rothschild Bank in the City of London (2011) and a Maggie’s cancer care centre in Glasgow (2011). They also created the Serpentine Pavilion in 2006. Currently under development are the Taipei Performing Arts Centre, Qatar National Library, Qatar Foundation Headquarters, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Prince Plaza in Shenzhen, and Faena Arts Center in Miami. Rem Koolhaas won the Pritzker Prize, the world most important prize for architecture, in 2000.   

The Factory will form a part of the new St John’s neighbourhood, which is being developed by Allied London in partnership with Manchester City Council, on the site of the former Granada TV Studios. This 15-acre site will form a new neighbourhood for people to live, work, create and experience with residential, workspace, hotels, independent food and drink, extensive public realm and open green spaces. 

Investment in arts institutions has played a significant role in making Manchester the second most-visited city in England and The Factory is seen as a real cultural counterbalance to London that will develop, train and retain creative talent. Research has shown that there is a demonstrable need for such a new venue, which will serve a catchment area of almost 10m people within a 90-minute drive time. It is calculated that within a decade it will help create the equivalent of nearly 2,500 jobs adding nearly £140m to the local economy. 

The budget for The Factory Manchester is estimated to be up to £110m. The Government pledged £78m in last year’s Autumn Statement towards the project as part of its Northern Powerhouse initiative. Manchester City Council will develop the rest of the funding package, which will include third party support such as public subscription and donations, as part of the detailed business case. Capital receipts from planned land and property sales will generate the council’s contribution to capital funding. 

The Chancellor George Osborne said: “One of the biggest economic investments we can make in our nation is in our extraordinary arts heritage. That’s why, as part of our package for the Northern Powerhouse, we have backed The Factory with significant investment because we know it will provide an outstanding new arts venue to be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds for generations to come.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The importance of The Factory cannot be overstated. It will be of international significance, the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond. It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created.” 

Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA said: “I am delighted that we have won the competition to design The Factory and look forward to realising this radical arts building for Manchester. It is wonderful to participate in the longstanding renaissance of the city, and particularly the Festival, where real experimentation is expected.”

Michael Ingall, Allied London’s Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be playing our part in such a wide-reaching community and cultural project. We were delighted to see the quality of responses from the design teams but particularly pleased with the choice of architect, having studied several important projects designed by OMA over recent years.”

The Factory and the wider St John’s regeneration scheme is a joint venture between Allied London and Manchester City Council.   

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