Aviva Studios, Factory International
Aviva Studios is the new home of Factory International, the producers of Manchester International Festival. The impressive building was conceived as a so-called symbol of the Northern Powerhouse back in 2014. And while that particular buzzphrase might be all-but-forgotten in 2023, this is one project that didn’t get culled along the way.
At £240m+, it was certainly expensive. But a city with Manchester’s cultural clout needs an iconic arts venue and this is it. It’s the first major public building in the UK from the renowned OMA and it is already a landmark.
The industrial look of the building is a nod to Manchester’s heritage yet it also looks light, like a piece of cubist origami perched by the water. Rather apt, because the internal workings of this building can also be re-folded and reformed to host intimate theatre performances, cavernous warehouse parties and complex art installations with a movable full-height acoustic wall and other architectural switcheroos.
Aviva Studios is primarily composed of The Warehouse and The Hall which are standalone spaces which can also work together. The flexibility of Aviva Studios encourages artists to create ambitious work on a grand scale. Ideas that only work here. It hopefully means that Manchester is going to have the edge when it comes to putting on ground-breaking new work.
It’s a year round home to Manchester International Festival and plays host to all sorts of events, from cutting edge immersive dance to children’s theatre, comedy and cool gigs.
If you’re just dropping in, there’s a riverside outdoor seating area and a sociable ground floor foyer, restaurant and bar, called, strangely enough, the Social. Here you’ll find coffee, beer and a middle eastern inspired menu as well as pizza slices from the bar.