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On a Mission: to acoustically engineer a world-class arts venue in the heart of bustling Manchester

Posted on January 7, 2021
4 minutes read
On a Mission: to acoustically engineer a world-class arts venue in the heart of bustling Manchester

The Factory


Currently underway on the site of the old Granada Studio in Manchester, ‘The Factory’ is a £130 million world-class cultural development set to be the new home of the Manchester International Festival. Designed by renowned architects OMA and being delivered by Laing O’Rourke, the new arts venue will host one of Europe’s most ambitious and adventurous year-round creative programs, inspired by the city’s unmatched history of innovation.

Once complete, The Factory is expected to deliver a £1.1bn boost to the city’s economy over a decade.

Its central location is a key attraction; in close proximity to the Museum of Science and Industry, within walking distance of the nearest train, tram, and bus stop, and bordered by busy restaurants and nightlife. However, with this desirable location comes significant vibration and acoustic engineering challenges.

Surrounded by eight railways lines, two high rise towers and two major ‘A’ roads the new venue requires high-performance acoustic and structural vibration isolation on all sides to minimise two-way disturbance.
Following Farrat’s instruction to design and manufacture bespoke acoustic and vibration isolation solutionsfor the scheme, Technical Director Ryan Arbabi, describes how there hasnever been a more significant project for Farrat.

“The acoustic isolation requirement on The Factory is exceptionally high, the load conditions are varied and complex, and the tolerance is tight. We are proud to be designing acoustically isolated assemblies that will connect the structural steel frame to a 200mm thick pre-cast concrete acoustic ‘shell’ – something that has never been attempted before”.

Farrat have supplied 600 individually designed, engineered and manufactured acoustic bearings to date, with another 2,000 predicted to be needed over the course of 2021 for the Warehouse and Theatre – the two key areas of the project. 

Farrat’s Building Acoustics Team are also working closely with Structural Engineering Specialists from Clancy Consultingto address some of the schemes most complex engineering challenges.

“Working with Clancy Consulting on The Factory has taken the acoustic isolation system design to the level of engineering and accuracy required to successfully deliver a project of this magnitude,” comments Adriana Leotta, Project Delivery Manager of The Factory at Farrat.

“Clancy have been extremely supportive during our long relationship. They have a strong sense of responsibility in providing the right solution and advice for the team they are working with.”

Bringing together the unique strengths of both Clancy and Farrat has strengthened the long-term relationship and inspired collaborations on other projects.

Our relationship with ClancyConsulting has developed from being a contractorto a trusted partner, engaged on a retained basis”, explains Ryan Arbabi.

Together, we now regularly tackle hybrid acoustic isolation and structural engineering applications that are both novel and innovative. We know we can rely on Clancy’s breadth of structural engineering capabilities and mix them with our niche acoustics expertise to offer a service to our clients significantly greater than the sum of its parts.

Clancy Consulting CEO, Martyn Headley, also affirms the collaborative relationship:.

The Farratand Clancy teams work closely together to arrive at innovative solutions on each and everyproject, and over time we have seen an incredibly strong relationship develop which has yielded fantastic projects we are both incredibly proud of. The Factory is just one example of this.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, has also endorsed the complex engineering behind the scheme and notes the important role the arts venue will play in local economy: 

“The Factory is a state-of-the-art, high-quality, multi-functional building, incomparable in nature to any other currently being constructed in the UK.  It’s fantastic to see the progress that has been made on site with the basic structure very much now visible.

Our creative sector is already thriving, and Manchester is now recognised as the second largest creative city in Europe after London, with a GVA to the city’s economy of £1.4bn – all of which proves the soundness of our ongoing investment in culture and the arts, and our continuing belief in the power of culture and creativity, and The Factory, to transform lives.

To work in partnership with these firms on such a ground-breaking scheme, so close to Farrat’s engineering and manufacturing facilities, is a tremendous achievement. Our team look forward to enjoying the rewards of their engineering feats in person, once The Factory project completes (set to open later this year).


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