Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has won an international competition to design The Factory Manchester, the city’s cutting-edge arts venue that will take a radically new approach to cultural production and performance. This is OMA’s first major public building in the UK. It will celebrate Manchester’s creative buzz in a new-era cultural centre aimed at the future.

Built on the success of the Manchester International Festival, The Factory Manchester is tipped to become the flagship cultural venue for the North and North West of England, as well as major international player.

It is imagined as a new kind of large-scale cultural venue, which will be home to a variety of different art forms. A large theatre will be the host for traditional performing arts (such as theatre, music, dance) but also more contemporary forms such as TV and film. The Factory also aims at hosting technology, media, live relays and scientific advancement events, recognising these as increasingly part of our contemporary culture. In doing so, The Factory will become a 21st-century hotspot unifying the arts with tech-innovation under one roof.

But the Factory, as the name suggests, is more than a container… it will also become a producer. It will be an inspirational space where art and is created and will seek to actively commission original innovative work year-round in partnership with other leading national and international organisation. It’s size and flexibility will allow for more than one large-scale work of art to be created and/or displayed at once, accommodating a combined audience of up to 7,000 people. This large scale focus on culture generation is seen as a significant regenerator in the next phase of economic and cultural evolution in the North of the country.

It is this regeneration spark which has gained the trust of the British government, which has agreed revenue funding for the project of £9m per annum from 2018/19 as part of its Spending Review. “One of the biggest economic investments we can make in our nation is in our extraordinary arts heritage”, says The Chancellor George Osborne. “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.”

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 importance of The Factory cannot be overstated”, says Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council. “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.”

The Factory will form a part of the new St John’s neighbourhood, a 15-acre site planned to 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.

The founder of OMA Rem Koolhaas, has won the Pritzker Prize (the world most important prize for architecture) in 2000, 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.”

The budget for this building is estimated to be in the region of £110m; £78m has already been pledged by the Government in last year’s Autumn Statement towards the flagship project as part of its Northern Powerhouse regenerative initiative.

Construction is due to begin in 2016 with completion in 2019.


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