Highly anticipated OMA project in Manchester completed

Aviva Studios Factory International aims to be a cutting-edge creative workshop capable of hosting a huge variety of artistic works while fitting into the city's industrial culture.

In 2015, the Manchester City Council launched a competition for an artistic venue for the Manchester International Festival (MIF), capable of hosting various types of performances and exhibitions, even simultaneously. The competition was won by OMA and finally, the project was completed.

The new MIF venue acknowledges Manchester’s industrial and creative past: its facades of concrete and corrugated metal stand out among the brick warehouses and new residential buildings with glass facades, offices, and television studios that make up the new St. John’s neighborhood. The building rises above Water Street, and the arches of the 19th-century railway line, now part of its foyer, open up to a much-needed portion of public space towards the River Irwell.

The Factory consists of two buildings. Its main event space, the Warehouse, is a large, 21-meter-high flexible container. It has been left unfinished to be adapted by users according to their needs. It can be used as a single space or divided into two, with full-height movable partitions that ensure sound insulation. It can host both intimate performances and concerts with 5,000 standing spectators. The ceiling is a technical grid, equipped with lighting, equipment, and cables.

The second building is the Hall, a 1,603-seat auditorium with a flexible stage, capable of hosting opera, ballet, theater, music, and interdisciplinary artistic performances. Warehouse and Hall can also work in tandem, allowing the stage to extend to a depth of 45 meters.

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