Factory project gets stamp of approval

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Amended designs for Manchester’s ‘Guggenheim of the North’ arts building, the £110m cultural venue, have been given final approval by Manchester City Council’s planning committee

As the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival, The Factory – named in honour of iconic music label Factory Records – will be built as a flexible space predicted to bring in 850,000 visitors a year.

The building has been designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture and will feature two main spaces: a 5,000-capacity warehouse and an auditorium for audiences of up to 2,000. The two spaces will have the ability to be combined, and also reduced in size, depending on the work being presented.

There will be public spaces inside and outside, including a new square and a riverside setting.

Laing O’Rourke is lined up as main contractor on the project, having been procured under the North West Construction Hub under a two-stage appointment in 2016.

The Factory project is due to complete in the first quarter of 2020 with a view to being launched in September 2020. Landowner 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; and Planit IE as landscape architect.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Culture and creativity have a critical role to play in Manchester’s future success – not just by inspiring ideas and imaginations but through creating opportunities and jobs. The Factory will help take this to a whole new level and open up a new chapter in Manchester’s history of innovation.

“Not only will people no longer need to move to London for the best cultural and creative roles, it will give audiences from around the country and even the world another great reason to head here.”

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