Rem Koolhaas' OMA fight off the competition to design Manchester arts venue The Factory

by Kim Megson | 25 Nov 2015

Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has won an international competition to design a cutting-edge arts venue in the UK city of Manchester.

Nine internationally acclaimed architects – including Zaha Hadid Architecture, Mecanoo, Rafael Vinoly Architects and Diller Scofidio + Renfro – were shortlisted to design the flagship cultural centre, named The Factory.

The £110m (US$166m, €157m) large-scale venue – which takes its name from Factory Records, the Manchester music label which launched the careers of British bands Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays – will commission and host performances of theatre, music, dance, technology, film and TV.

Details about OMA’s design are currently thin on the ground, but new renderings show a bold cube-shaped structure clad in glass panels. There will be 2,200 seats and room for 5,000 standing visitors. Building work is expected to start in 2016 with work set to be completed by 2019.

The Factory will be OMA's first major public building in the UK. A “delighted’ Koolhaas – winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2000 – said: “I look forward to realising this radical arts building for Manchester. It is wonderful to participate in the longstanding renaissance of the city, where real experimentation is expected.”

The project will receive more than £75m (US$113m, €107m) from the UK government as part of its Northern Powerhouse initiative to transform the northern region into a “cultural and economic counterbalance” to London. Manchester City Council will develop the rest of the funding package.

Council leader Richard Leese 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.”

The Factory will form a part of Manchester’s new St John's neighbourhood, which is being developed by Allied London in partnership with Manchester City Council on the site of the a former TV studio.

This 60,000sq m site (635,400sq ft) will form a new neighbourhood for people to live, work and create, and will include hotels, bars, restaurants, cultural facilities and extensive public realm and open green spaces.

OMA’s recent projects include the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Ongoing cultural developments include a performing arts centre in Taipei and a national art museum in Quebec, Canada.

The firm’s Interlace housing development in Singapore scooped the Building of the Year prize at this year’s World Architecture Festival.

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FEATURE: CLAD people – Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has won an international competition to design a cutting-edge arts venue in the UK city of Manchester. Nine internationally acclaimed architects – including Zaha Hadid Architecture, Mecanoo, Rafael Vinoly Architects and Diller Scofidio + Renfro – were shortlisted to design the flagship cultural centre, named The Factory. The £110m (US$166m, €157m) large-scale venue – which takes its name from Factory Records, the Manchester
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The Factory will commission and host performances of theatre, music, dance, technology, film and TV
/ OMA
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