There’s a new addition to Manchester’s creative map as the much anticipated Aviva Studios finally opened its doors to the public – hosting events, performances and exhibitions in an adaptable space that will expand and contract as needed.
OMA, led by architect Ellen Van Loon, took inspiration from the city’s gritty industrial heritage for the complex – which sits on the site of the former Granada television studios – designing it to contrast the brick warehouses and glass apartment blocks it’s sandwiched between. The firm also incorporated 19th-century railway arches into Aviva Studios’ foyer.
The riverside centre features a shipping container-style wing named The Warehouse, attached to a second, faceted building called The Hall. Together, they span over 13,000 sq m, with the first designed to host concerts and exhibitions and the second laid out as an auditorium.
OMA has designed the buildings to work together or separately, with steel shutters dividing the two spaces. The 21-metre-tall Warehouse has sliding panels that can be moved to carve up the available room.
Aviva Studios is set to become the new home for the bi-annual Manchester International Festival, run by Factory International, which previously had to spread itself across various buildings in the city – and often struggled to find spaces large enough to host its ambitious art pieces. Factory International will run year-round programming at Aviva Studios.
The events space is the lynchpin of the St John’s regeneration project around the old Granada TV studios. The 13-acre site is being developed by Allied London with £300m backing from Aviva and land from Manchester City Council.