Kier begins work on £35m School of Digital Arts in Manchester

School of Digital Arts, Manchester University, SODA, Kier, MMU,

Kier has started construction work on MMU’s five-storey School of Digital Arts (SODA) – a 5,200m² £35m investment into digital storytelling

The SODA building will be located on Higher Chatham Street, adjacent to the Manchester School of Art in the Benzie Building.

School of Digital Arts, SODA
School of Digital Arts

SODA will provide state-of-the-art lab spaces, workshops and professional networks, underpinned by a unique teaching and research environment to create, among others, the next generation of filmmakers, animators and games designers.

The project has been designed by FCBStudios and it will house a digital innovation and UX lab, film studios, green screens, edit suites, sound, music and production studios; alongside a screening room and gallery space, giving more than 1,000 students a year the chance to study disciplines that span animation, filmmaking, photography, UX and games design, AI and more.

The School of Digital Arts (SODA) is a groundbreaking interdisciplinary school to support the urgent and growing demand for skilled workers in the region’s creative digital and tech sector.

Peter Commins, managing director at Kier Regional Building North West, said: “Throughout the build, we will be engaging with the city of Manchester workforce to create 10 apprenticeship opportunities and we will also be creating 100 local jobs on this project.

“Upon completion, this state-of-the-art facility will bring creative, digital, technology and business assets together to house a number of subjects under one roof.”

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “SODA is a big step towards fulfilling our ambition for Greater Manchester to be the UK’s leading digital city-region. We are already a centre for creativity, and when you bring tech and creativity together as we will in this great new School, we are getting closer towards it.

“It’s a sign of our confidence in the next generation of young people’s talent. What we hope is that thousands of young people from here and from further afield come through this new School. We’ll ensure that they can turn that creativity into their future career. SODA is a school designed specifically to address and invest in the needs of the next generation of young people.”

Penny Macbeth, dean of Manchester School of Art, commented: “It is hugely exciting to see the stunning architectural plans for the SODA building starting to take shape.

“Alongside this, we are building the new SODA curriculum and developing an ambitious research agenda, inspired by the University’s strengths in digital innovation, creativity and collaboration.”

Lou Cordwell OBE, deputy chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and founder of Magnetic North in Manchester, added: “In partnership with GMCA, the GM LEP is proud to invest £14.9m of the Local Growth Fund into the School Of Digital Arts, a purpose-built facility for one of the UK’s leading modern universities.”

Work on the School of Digital Arts will be complete in spring 2021, in time for students in September 2021.


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