Rem Koolhaas Wins Competition to Design New Performing Arts Venue in Manchester

The $166.2 million commission marks OMA's first major public project in the UK.

A rendering of the preliminary design. Photo: DeZeen

Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has won an international competition to design The Factory, a new theater and arts venue in Manchester, England.

The £110 million ($166.2 million) commission marks OMA’s first major public project in the UK. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and is expected to be completed by 2019.

Based on preliminary images, the structure will take the shape of a large glass cube, featuring an oversized sliding door and a monumental staircase leading to the entrance. An angular white tent-like structure will protrude from the side.

The Factory will be a focal point of Manchester's performing arts. Photo: DeZeen

The Factory will be a focal point of Manchester’s performing arts.
Photo: Dezeen.

According to Dezeen, the venue has the capacity to host several performances at the same time, with audiences of up to 7,000 people.

“The Factory will make and present a wide range of art forms and culture, incorporating theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, media and live relays, scientific advancements and the connections between all of these—under one roof,” a statement from the institution said. “[It] will be a new kind of large-scale venue that captures the extraordinary creative vision and depth of Manchester’s cultural life.”

There's enough room for a combined audience of 7,000 people across several stages. Photo: DeZeen

There’s enough room for a combined audience of 7,000 people across several stages.
Photo: Dezeen.

The venue is planned to become an important venue for the city’s performing arts biennial, the Manchester International Festival (MIF), and will also host independent performances throughout the year.

“I look forward to realizing this radical arts building for Manchester,” said Koolhaas in the statement. “It is wonderful to participate in the longstanding renaissance of the city, and particularly the Festival, where real experimentation is expected.”

The venue has space for several performances to take place simultaneously. Photo: DeZeen

The venue has space for several performances to take place simultaneously.
Photo: Dezeen.

Richard Leese, of Manchester City Council, expressed his delight at the plans. “It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created,” he said.

The announcement of OMA’s commission was followed by news of the appointment of Fiona Gasper as the new director of MIF, signaling an ambitious new cultural era for the British city.


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