Manchester’s “Factory” Arts Project Gets Planning Go-Ahead

OMA Factory Manchester
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

Factory – Manchester’s New Cultural Centre

Planning approval was granted on the 12th January for The Factory, Manchester’s new £110m cultural hub. Located on the site of the old Granada studio’s and designed by the world-famous Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) founded by Rem Koolhaas, it promises to put Manchester at the forefront of culture in the North and give London a run for it’s money.

The project is OMA’s first major public building in the UK and will be led by project partners Ellen van Loon and Rem Koolhaas. Construction is due to begin in Spring 2017.

OMA - Factory Manchester
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester


Factory, named after Manchester’s Factory records, started by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus which featured  Joy Division, Happy Mondays and New Order amongst its signings, will be a groundbreaking new venue driven by the extraordinary creative vision and breadth of Manchester’s cultural life.


Image Courtsey of OMA
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

It will form part of the vibrant new St. John’s neighbourhood, being developed by Allied London, in partnership with Manchester City Council, and will also have up to 3000 new homes, and open spaces, room for small enterprises, retail and be the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF)

Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

Ellen van Loon, OMA partner in charge of the project: “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, 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.”

Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester
Water Street At Night Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

The new venue will offer audiences the opportunity to enjoy year round, in a new world-class facility, the broadest range of art forms and cultural experiences – including dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, spoken word, popular culture and innovative contemporary work incorporating multiple media and technologies.  Artists from across the world will be invited to create new work in the building’s extraordinary spaces.

Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

Factory’s economic impact is expected to be considerable, creating or supporting almost 1,500 full-time jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade. It will make a direct contribution to the growth of creative industries in the North, reducing the dependency on London as the provider of creative industries training and employment. It will develop partnerships with the city’s leading higher education institutions and will further support the city’s drive for high calibre graduate talent retention through job creation.

Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester
Copyright: OMA. Image Courtesy Factory Manchester

As a project, this must be one of the most exciting of any currently planned for the UK. The idea that a space can be used for a conference in the morning, an arts exhibition space in the afternoon and music event in the evening is certainly a big ask. That it will offer jobs and technical innovation both within the facility and in the expected tech, design and arts facilities which will be drawn to St John’s is welcome and altogether, will cement Manchester as the UK’s second city.

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