Architect OMA has submitted a revised planning application for The Factory, Manchester’s new £110m arts centre, with changes proposed to the building’s façade alongside a number of internal alterations.
Plans were originally submitted for the building in October 2016 and approved in January 2017, but following extensive consultation with Manchester City Council, the building’s end-user Manchester International Festival, and other partners, three key areas have been overhauled.
The updated planning submission includes a reduction in scale and seating capacity for The Factory’s theatre, which is being cut from 1,600 seated to 1,520. Meanwhile, the orchestra pit is being increased to house up to 80 musicians, up from 60.
OMA said the changes to the seating capacity were made after a review with national theatre operators, with the changes to provide “a more intimate relationship between audience and performers and a more appropriately scaled, improved theatre house”.
This has also led to a change in size and shape of the proposed theatre, with the updated designs revealing a “back-to-basics” theatre shape, compared with OMA’s original concept.
The building’s truck lift also now sits on the exterior of the building, as opposed to inside it as originally conceived. It will be built from concrete and clad in expanded steel mesh.
This change has allowed the plant room to be moved from ground level, freeing up space for additional public realm.
Other changes to the facades are focussed on the north and south elevations. These were originally planned to include glass but this has now been removed, as the architect argued the inclusion of glass was “contrary to the majority of the internal use” with the glass needing to be blacked out 90% of the time for performances. These facades will remain corrugated concrete.
There have also been a series of minor modifications made to the layout including changes to the offices and support area near the foyer, but the architect described these as “not significant to planning consent”.
Laing O’Rourke is lined up as main contractor on the scheme, having been procured under the North West Construction Hub under a two-stage appointment in 2016. They are currently working under a pre-construction services arrangement and is expected to sign the contract in the coming weeks, ahead of construction starting in the summer.
The project is due to complete in the first quarter of 2020 with a view to being launched in September 2020. Allied London is acting as development manager for the project, which has been supported by £78m from the Treasury and £7m of Lottery funding.
The professional team also includes Deloitte as planner; Buro Happold as structural and facades engineer; Gardiner & Theobald as project manager; BDP as services engineer; Charcoal Blue as theatre consultant; Level Acoustics and Vibration as acoustic engineer; Vectos as transport consultant; WSP as fire engineer; Deloitte as planner; and Planit IE as landscape architect.
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