Laing O’Rourke has started work on £110m cultural venue The Factory in St John’s, Manchester, designed by Dutch practice the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
OMA founder Rem Koolhaas and colleague Ellen van Loon were in the city on Saturday for the groundbreaking ceremony. He was joined by John Glen, arts minister; Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council; Tom Bloxham, chair of Manchester International Festival; and Sir Nicholas Serota, former Tate director and now head of funding board Arts Council England.
Manchester International Festival artist Laurie Anderson devised a special performance for the ceremony.
Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon also gave a talk about the project afterward the ceremony, chaired by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery.
John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: “The Factory will be a truly world-class cultural venue for the whole of the North to enjoy. The Government’s £78m investment is helping to deliver this fantastic project for the Northern Powerhouse that will boost jobs, visitor numbers and champion arts and culture across the region. The vision, ambition and innovation of The Factory is inspirational and I am excited to see it develop in the coming years.”
The project team includes WSP, Gardiner & Theobald, Buro Happold, Arup, Charcoalblue, Deloitte, and David Bonnett Associates.
Manchester International Festival will be the operator of the building as well as continuing to deliver the Festival every two years.
The total capital costs of the project are £110m. The project was recently awarded major funding by Arts Council England including £7m capital from the Lottery fund and £9m annual revenue from 2018-22. The capital funding will be paid to Manchester City Council. The total capital cost of the project is £110m comprising £78m Exchequer funding, up to £20m from Manchester City Council contribution, the Lottery funding and a minimum fundraising target of £5m. Manchester International Festival, the operator for Factory, has been awarded £9.73m a year of which £9m is for The Factory and £730,000 is for the continuation of the biennial festival.
The successful funding bids were based on economic forecasts that 1,500 full-time jobs would be created or supported and £1.1bn added to the city’s economy over a decade.
The Factory is OMA’s first major public building in the UK. Ellen van Loon, partner, OMA, said: “Factory provides the ultimate versatile space in which art, theatre and music come together: a platform that allows for experimentation in the cultural scene and cross fertilization between typologies.
“The venue will give MIF, which never had its own building, a fixed theatre that is extremely flexible, blurring the lines between back of house and front of house, inside and outside, art and public culture.
“Breathing the raw atmosphere of Manchester’s industrial past, its design aims to preserve the city’s rough edge, as a sort of resistance to the pervasive beautification of inner cities.”
The Factory is situated at Allied London’s new St. John’s neighbourhood, formerly home to Granada TV.