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The Factory is a £110 million theatre and arts venue to be built on the former site of Granada Studios, in the St John's Quarter of Manchester (currently 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] Its name comes from Factory Records, the independent record label founded by Tony Wilson.[4][5]

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
Coordinates53°28′40.1844″N 02°15′27.2988″W / 53.477829000°N 2.257583000°W / 53.477829000; -2.257583000Coordinates: 53°28′40.1844″N 02°15′27.2988″W / 53.477829000°N 2.257583000°W / 53.477829000; -2.257583000
Public transitDeansgate train station
OwnerManchester Quays Ltd (MQL)
OperatorManchester International Festival
via the project's board
1,500 theatre space
5,000 flexible 'warehouse' space
Acreage13,500 square meters
Broke ground8 July 2017 (2017-07-08)
OpenedSeptember 2020 (2020-09) planned
Construction cost£116.5 million
ArchitectOffice for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), lead designer Rem Koolhaas
Project managerJenny Baxter
Structural engineerBuroHappold Engineering also civil engineer services and building services
Services engineerCharcoalblue (theatre)
Ove Arup & Partners (acoustic)
General contractorLaing O'Rourke
Main contractorsAllied London
Manchester International Festival
on a peppercorn rent of 30 years



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 funding Amount £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 entire space will cover 13,500 square metres and will be flexible enough to accommodate combined audiences of up to 6,500, although it is envisaged that it will operate mainly as a 1,500 seat theatre space plus a 5,000 capacity flexible performance space (the warehouse).[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 will 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 structureEdit

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 current artistic director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), joining MIF in June 2017 as Associate Artistic Director to oversee the creation of The Factory.[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:

  • Alan Bishop (former CEO Southbank Centre, 2009–2017), and
  • Amy Lawrence (Young Person's board representative).[30]

Design team appointmentsEdit

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:

  • Lot 1: Architectural Services: Lead design consultant, preparation and brief, concept design, development design, technical design, provide construction production information, handover and close out. Estimated cost £4 million.[32]
Successful bidder: (see "Architectural design team" below)[33]
  • Lot 2: Theatre Consultant Services: Provide theatre consultant design services from feasibility and design options, developed design, technical design including auditorium, rehearsal rooms, hall design and other spaces relating to producing and performance, construction production information, handover and close out. Estimated cost £1.2 million.[32]
Successful bidder: Charcoalblue[33]
  • Lot 3: Structural & Civil Engineer Services: Provide structural and civil engineering design services to produce the structural design, including that relating to the production of 3-D spatial co-ordination and clash detection between the structural and other design elements from pre-construction, construction and handover and close out. Estimated cost £1.25 million.[32]
Successful bidder: Buro Happold[33][34]
  • Lot 4: Building Services Engineer Services: Responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the mechanical and electrical design are fully co-ordinated including the production of 3-D clash detection between the mechanical and electrical services and any other design elements from pre-construction, construction and handover and close out. Estimated cost £1.25 million.[32]
The five shortlisted firms: Buro Happold[33][34]
  • Lot 5: Cost Consultant and Employer's Agent Services: Responsible for cost management services including concept design, options appraisals, developed design, technical design, contract pricing, change management, cost control during construction, signing monthly valuations as client representative and final account settlement. Estimated cost £1.3 million.[32]
Successful bidder: Gardiner and Theobald[33]
  • Lot 6: Fire Engineer Services: Provide fire engineer services developing the fire strategy from pre-construction, construction and handover and close out. Estimated cost £100,000.[32]
Successful bidder: WSP UK (Trading as WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff)[33]
  • Lot 7: Acoustic Engineer Services: Provide acoustic engineering services developing the acoustic strategy from pre-construction, construction and handover and close out. Estimated cost £420,000.[32]
Successful bidder: Ove Arup & Partners[33]

Architectural design teamEdit

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]


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

  • July 2015 - issue of the contract for design services[32]
  • Mid-November 2015 - design team appointments (see above)[24]
  • August 2016 - planning application submission[15]:15
  • February 2017 to September 2019 - construction[15]:15
  • August 2019 to November 2019 - commissioning of facilities and test events[15]:15
  • Beginning of 2020 - opening ceremony[39]Note 2

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 timetableEdit

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 employmentEdit

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 alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • 151 page overview of the background and design of the factory: OMA (October 2016). Design and access statement: Factory (pdf). Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).


  1. ^ "Starlight Theatre". Old Granada Studios: St Johns. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  2. ^ Chapman, Stephen (27 September 2013). "Granada's Quay Street complex bought by Allied London and Manchester City Council". Prolific North. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  3. ^ Williams, Verity (15 June 2016). "MIF's Giselle at The Palace Theatre, preview: Dancing to a different tune". Creative Tourist. Creative Tourist Ltd. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  4. ^ Sherwin, Adam (29 July 2015). "The Factory project: New £110m arts venue named after Tony Wilson's Factory Records to open in Manchester". The Independent. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  5. ^ Williams, Jennifer (22 July 2015). "Manchester's £110m Factory Theatre takes a big step forward with architects set to be appointed". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Autumn Statement: £78m 'Factory' theatre planned for Manchester". Architects Journal. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  7. ^ "£78m for The Factory Manchester - a new large scale, ultra-flexible arts space". 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Manchester to get new multi-million pound theatre". 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  9. ^ "REVEALED: New £78m Arts & Theatre Space For Granada Studios". Manchester Confidential. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  10. ^ "The Guardian view on Manchester's new cultural space: from one kind of factory to another". The Guardian. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Manchester to get new £78m theatre named The Factory". BBC News. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  12. ^ "New multi-million pound theatre and £250m science institute to be built in Manchester, Chancellor confirms". Manchester Evening News. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Manchester to get new £78m theatre named The Factory". BBC. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  14. ^ Youngs, Ian (29 July 2015). "The Factory Manchester £110m arts venue approved". BBC. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Manchester City Council (July 2016). Executive meeting: 16. Updated Draft St Johns Strategic regeneration framework and Factory Manchester (Report). Manchester City Council. Retrieved 22 July 2016. Pdf.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Manchester City Council (26 July 2017). Executive meeting: 9. Factory Manchester (Report). Manchester City Council. Retrieved 29 July 2017. Pdf.
  17. ^ Williams, Jennifer (26 July 2017). "Manchester's new flagship arts centre was designed with poor acoustics and an orchestra pit that was too small - and it'll cost us £1.6m to fix it". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  18. ^ Historic England 1200805
  19. ^ OMA (October 2016), "Introduction", in OMA (ed.), Design and access statement: Factory (151 pages) (pdf), OMA, p. 7
  20. ^ "The Factory". Manchester Quays Ltd (MQL). Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Building our new gallery". Museum of Science and Industry. Retrieved 18 January 2017. Pdf of Carmody Groarke's design.
  22. ^ "Museum of Science and Industry". Carmody Groarke. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  23. ^ Hutchison, David (20 July 2015). "Simon Mellor appointed project director for Manchester's the Factory". The Stage. The Stage Media Company Limited. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  24. ^ a b Manchester City Council (29 July 2015). Executive meeting: 16. The Factory Manchester: Project Delivery (Report). Manchester City Council. pp. 222–224. Retrieved 5 August 2015. point 5.0. Pdf.
  25. ^ Woolman, Natalie (3 January 2012). "MIF general director Simon Mellor to join arts council". The Stage. The Stage Media Company Limited. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  26. ^ Williams, Jennifer (21 March 2016). "Council advertises for £140,000 arts chief to head Factory project". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  27. ^ Chapman, Stephen (2 June 2016). "BBC's Jenny Baxter to lead Factory Manchester". Prolific North. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  28. ^ "Manchester's Factory gets the go-ahead". Manchester City Council. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  29. ^ BWW Newsdesk (12 January 2017). "LIFT Artistic Director Mark Ball joins Manchester International Festvial". Broadway World. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  30. ^ Coyne, Nadja; Hargreaves, Jamie-leigh (14 September 2017). "Manchester International Festival appoints nine new board members" (PDF) (Press release). Manchester: Manchester International Festival. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  31. ^ Clark, Tim (27 July 2015). "Manchester seeks architect for £110m The Factory venue". Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h "Provision of design services lots 1-7 for the Factory Development, Manchester". 24 July 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h admin (26 November 2015). "The Factory Manchester arts building". e-architect. World Architecture. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  34. ^ a b Barrett, Emma (23 March 2016). "BuroHappold part of the team appointed to design and deliver Manchester's newest flexible arts space, The Factory". BuroHappold Engineering. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  35. ^ Fulcher, Merlin (23 September 2015). "Stellar shortlist revealed for Manchester's new £110m arts venue". Architects' Journal. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  36. ^ Marrs, Colin (1 October 2015). "No architects on Manchester's Factory competition jury". Architects' Journal. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  37. ^ Brown, Mark (25 November 2015). "Rem Koolhaas wins Factory design project as Manchester goes Dutch". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  38. ^ Staff writer (November 2015). "Images". Bolton & Quinn. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  39. ^ a b Manchester City Council (January 2017). Executive meeting: 20. Updated Draft St. John’s Strategic Regeneration Framework and Factory Manchester (Report). Manchester City Council. p. 1. Retrieved 13 January 2017. Pdf.
  40. ^ Fulcher, Merlin; Braidwood, Ella (24 November 2016). "OMA lodges plans for Manchester's £110m 'Factory' arts venue". Architects' Journal. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  41. ^ "MIF announced as operator for Factory". Manchester International Festival. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  42. ^ "Skills, Training and Education Lead, Factory Project (job description)" (PDF). Manchester International Festival. March 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.


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

External linksEdit