Council preps for architect switch at Oldham Coliseum

Oldham Council has confirmed that Coliseum architect Mecanoo will not be progressing with the project to delivery stage.

A replacement architect is yet to be announced. Market rumours have suggested Oldham Town Hall architect BDP would be a fit for the project.

A statement from Cllr Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: “Mecanoo informed us that they’re unable to resource the architectural services side of this project beyond the end of our initial contract with them.

“Alongside our building contractors, Gilbert Ash, we’re currently looking at potential replacement practices to work with us on this exciting project. We aim to have an alternative architect in place in early 2018 and do not envisage any significant impact on project delivery at this stage.”

The Coliseum is to move from its current home on Fairbottom Street to Southgate Street car park site, with a frontage on Union Street. The new venue includes a 550-seat auditorium and a 170-seat studio theatre, and is scheduled to open by 2020.

Mecanoo’s designs for the project have undergone a series of changes. The scheme was first approved in 2015, but was reworked to split the project into two elements; a new-build theatre, plus the listed building conversion. The newest iteration was approved in August 2017.

In November, Delft-headquartered Mecanoo confirmed that it was scaling back its Manchester studio, launched in 2012, and made five people redundant, after a reduction in the number of projects it was engaged on in the region.

Over the last few years the practice worked on a number of major projects in the city, such as the University of Manchester’s £300m Engineering Campus Development, and Capital & Centric and Henry Boot’s £200m Kampus. However in both cases the studio was not kept on as delivery architect; Kampus is now advised by Chapman Taylor, and on MECD Mecanoo has been retained as technical advisor to the client, while BDP is executive architect.

BDP has been successful in Oldham in recent years, advising the council on the £30m regeneration of the previously vacant listed Town Hall, re-opened in 2017 as home to an Odeon, restaurants and café.

Mecanoo and BDP have been contacted for comment.

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