The RIBA Hub café and bookshop in Portland Street, Manchester will close to the public from today and prepare to become an events and exhibition space for Manchester School of Architecture and children's built environment education provider PLACES.
The future of the space has been in the balance for some time as it faced the impact of the rise of online book retailing and the closure of the adjacent CUBE gallery by the University of Salford in October 2013.
The cafe closed briefly in early 2011 when regional bookshops run by RIBA Enterprises were also shut in Liverpool and Birmingham. The Manchester venue reopened as the RIBA Hub.
The new focus from 2014 will, the RIBA said, "dedicate more resources and space to the delivery of exhibitions, events and training courses. It will also be strengthening its education offering through the development of its existing relationships with the Manchester School of Architecture, the children's built environment education provider PLACES, and the launch of the School of Architecture for Children project."
Andrew Ruffler, regional director of the RIBA in the North West, said: "We are keen to ensure that Manchester maintains a physical RIBA presence to support the membership and be a focus for the wider built environment sector. The RIBA will be working closely with its partners, the Manchester School of Architecture and PLACES to ensure that the RIBA Hub is animated throughout the year, and provides a wide range of relevant events and activities, including the School of Architecture for Children project."
John Bishop of PLACES said: "Having the RIBA as partners on the project will help to support the children's urban learning experience and will enrich the ways they can communicate this experience to others. Architects and built environment professionals who work in Manchester can potentially become involved as creative collaborators in the project work. In this way the children, their families and teachers will, through the imagination of the children, meet a diverse range of people involved creatively in the design and construction of the city. These links with both education and the profession will also enable the children to learn and understand about a whole range of buildings that would otherwise have been merely a backdrop to their everyday lives."
The RIBA is speaking to other local organisations about joining the partnership and hopes to be in a position to make further announcements in due course.
From Monday the space will no longer be open to the public on a daily basis, unless there is an exhibition or event taking place. Details of exhibitions, events, activities and opening hours will be communicated throughout the year via the RIBA Hub Twitter feed @RibaHub, and through regular RIBA communications, including www.architecture.com