The Factory (Manchester)

Last updated

The Factory
Granada Studio Tours, Manchester, 2011.jpg
Former Granada Studios entrance on Water Street, proposed site of venue
LocationFormer Granada TV Studios
Water Street
M60 9EA England
Coordinates 53°28′40.1844″N02°15′27.2988″W / 53.477829000°N 2.257583000°W / 53.477829000; -2.257583000 Coordinates: 53°28′40.1844″N02°15′27.2988″W / 53.477829000°N 2.257583000°W / 53.477829000; -2.257583000
Public transit Deansgate train station
Owner Manchester Quays Ltd (MQL)
Operator Manchester International Festival
via the project's board
Capacity 6,600
1,600 auditorium
5,000 flexible 'warehouse' space
Acreage 13,300 square metres
Opened2021 planned
Construction cost £130.6 million
Architect Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), lead architect Ellen van Loon
Project managerManchester City Council
Structural engineer BuroHappold Engineering also civil engineer services and BREEAM
Services engineerBDP (building services) Charcoalblue (theatre)
Level Acoustics (acoustic)
Manchester International Festival
on a peppercorn rent of 30 years

The Factory is a £130.6 million multi-disciplinary arts venue currently being constructed on the former site of Granada Studios, in the St John's Quarter of Manchester (formerly the site of the Starlight Theatre), [1] being developed by Manchester Quays Ltd (MQL), a development partnership between Allied London and Manchester City Council, [2] and is to be the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival. [3] It has been claimed that the name comes from Factory Records, the independent record label founded by Tony Wilson. [4] [5]



The development was announced in 2014. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] Initially the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the venue would cost £78 million, [13] subsequently the council stated that they had managed to secure a further £32 million from "a variety of sources" but added that no public money would be used. [14] The council said that the venue would "play an integral part in helping Manchester and the north of England provide a genuine cultural counterbalance to London". [13] The government confirmed the £78 million towards the £110 million in November 2015. They also announced that, from 1 April 2018, they will provide Arts Council England (ACE) with an additional £9 million per annum to offer revenue support to Factory. [15] :9

In July 2016, the council gave further details about the sources of the £110 million capital cost of the building: [15] :13-14 The following year, July 2017, the council announced changes to the design of the building would mean a larger orchestra pit, alterations to the facades and the capacity of the smaller venue reduced from 1,700 to 1,500. The revised designs will mean an increase in the overall cost to £111.65 million, £1.6 million to come from council borrowing and £50,000 from the Treasury. [16] [17]

Funding for the building of The Factory [15] :13-14 [16]
Source of fundingAmount £m ( % of all funding )
Exchequer via ACE grant
Manchester City Council
ACE Lottery grant
Fundraising by MIF
Exchequer grant

Total amount = £111.65m

The council also announced that an application for a new charity, The Factory Trust, to be chaired by Sir Howard Bernstein has been made to the Charities Commission. The council state that, "once the trust has charitable status, it will begin a programme of applications to Trusts and Foundations alongside approaches to individuals and corporations." [16] :7


The building will cover 13,300 square metres, offering uniquely flexible spaces, including an auditorium with a capacity of up to 1,600 people, and a larger space - the warehouse - with a capacity of up to 5,000 people. The auditorium and warehouse will be able to present events simultaneously, but they will also be able to be combined. The warehouse space will also be able to be divided into two spaces. [16] The scheme also includes the restoration and reuse of the northern brick arched portion of the Grade II-listed Colonnaded Railway Viaduct [18] and a public realm to the north and west of the Factory building. [19] [20]

Plans for The Factory also align with the adjacent Museum of Science and Industry, which "will become part of the creative public realm, with MSI's creative science ... balancing the creative and cultural production of Factory." [15] :11 The MSI plan to build a new £6 million Special Exhibition Gallery alongside The Factory; the new gallery is set to be complete by 2018. [21] [22]

Project board structure

In the summer of 2015, it was announced that the design and development process would be overseen by a Project Board set up by Manchester City Council with Maria Balshaw appointed the Single Responsible Owner for the project. Funding and project monitoring is the responsibility of ACE, who have agreed to second Simon Mellor, ACE's Executive Director, Arts and Culture, [23] for up to two days a week (to be based in the Manchester project office in Manchester Town Hall). His role will be to support the further development of the business case and to work up the technical brief for the design team. [24] Mellor was previously a General Director at MIF. [25] Other contacts for the project include: Joanne Roney (the council's Chief Executive), Dave Carty (development manager of the council's City Centre Regeneration) and Pat Bartoli (head of the council's City Centre Regeneration Team). [15] :4

In June 2016, it was announced that the chief operating officer for BBC England, Jenny Baxter, was to become project director of The Factory from autumn 2016, at a salary of £140,000 to be paid by Manchester City Council. [26] [27]

Manchester City Council granted planning permission for the building in January 2017, announcing at the same time that Manchester International Festival will operate the centre, with Mark Ball, the former artistic director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), joining MIF in June 2017 as Creative Director to oversee the development of The Factory programme alongside MIF Artistic Director and Chief Executive John McGrath. [28] [29]

In July 2017 several new board members were announced (along with chair, Howard Bernstein):

Further additions to the board were announced in September the same year:

Design team appointments

The £9.5m design contracts were put out to tender in July 2015. [31] The design team are being procured through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procurement process via seven lots, each with an estimated duration of 45 months (3 years, 9 months i.e. the summer of 2019) from the award of the contract in mid-November 2015:

Successful bidder: (see " Architectural design team " below) [33]
Successful bidder: Charcoalblue [33]
Successful bidder: Buro Happold [33] [34]
The five shortlisted firms: Buro Happold [33] [34]
Successful bidder: Gardiner and Theobald [33]
Successful bidder: WSP UK (Trading as WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff) [33]
Successful bidder: Ove Arup & Partners [33]

Architectural design team

Rem Koolhaas of OMA pictured in 1987. Rem Koolhaas 1987.jpg
Rem Koolhaas of OMA pictured in 1987.

On 23 September 2015, the Architects' Journal announced the shortlisted design teams, [35] however the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Angela Brady, was amongst a number of architects who expressed their concern that there are no architects amongst the jury that would name the successful bidding firm. The jury comprised: Richard Leese, (leader of Manchester City Council), Tom Bloxham, (chairman of the festival and Urban Splash), and Michael Ingall, (chief executive of Allied London). The jury were assisted by a technical panel: Maria Balshaw, (director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries - comprising Manchester Art Gallery and Gallery of Costume), Pat Bartoli, (head of the council's City Centre Regeneration Team), John McGrath, (artistic director and chief executive of the festival), Greg Attwood, (development director at Allied London), and Dave Carty, (development manager of the council's City Centre Regeneration). [36]

Out of the 48 architectural firms who expressed an interest, the following nine were invited to go forward by the council:

Rafael Viñoly Architects · Diller Scofidio + Renfro · Bennetts Associates · Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) · Zaha Hadid Architects · SimpsonHaugh and Partners · Grimshaw Architects · Mecanoo International · Haworth Tompkins Limited

The successful company chosen by the council was Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) with its lead designer Rem Koolhaas. [33] [37] [38]


construction site 12.11.2019 The factory manchester.jpg
construction site 12.11.2019

The timeframe established by the Project Board contained the following key milestones: Note 1

When the procurement process was completed, a detailed design and delivery strategy as well as a detailed business case was presented to Manchester City Council's Executive Committee. [15]

The planning application was submitted to the council in November 2016, [40] and approved in January 2017. [41]

Revised timetable

A revised planning application, taking account of some design changes, is due to be submitted in September 2017 with a decision expected in November 2017. This will result in the venue opening in September 2020, with test events from April / May 2020, [16] rather than the original plan of the opening ceremony at the beginning of 2020. [39]

Training and employment

It is intended that the Factory should deliver a skills, engagement and training programme that is divided into two elements:

  1. Factory Plant, which build's on the festivals existing learning programme [15] :10 and,
  2. Factory Academy, "a new, virtual academy and centre for excellence in training the next generation of technicians, producers and creatives for the performing arts and live events industries across the Northern Powerhouse." [15] :11

It is also anticipated that the venue will have 125 permanent staff plus 15 apprentices. [15] :12–13 Funding will come from the Factory Trust which is due to be established for the purposes of fundraising. [42]

See also

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Note 1 The original timeline was as follows:
  • May 2016 - planning application submission
  • January 2017 to December 2018 - construction
  • January 2019 to June 2019 - commissioning of facilities and test events
  • July 2019 - opening ceremony
Note 2 The revised timeline was as follows:
  • End of 2019 - opening ceremony
Reference to Note 1
Reference to Note 2