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Mecanoo's HOME arts centre in Manchester opened by Danny Boyle

mecanoo PR
May 29, '15 5:54 PM EST

On Thursday 21st May, Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle officially opened HOME, Manchester’s new centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film. Over 25,000 people visited the arts centre during its inaugural HOMEwarming weekend. HOME features two theatres, five cinemas, a gallery, restaurant and bars, and was designed by Dutch architecture practice Mecanoo.

Cultural home
HOME is a catalyst for the developments around First Street, giving Manchester a new cultural epicentre where art and people come together. As the base for the new organisation formed by the merger of Cornerhouse and The Library Theatre Company, HOME has been designed to allow for the commissioning, production and presentation of critically engaged and technically complex artistic projects, as well as the hosting of large scale cultural events in the heart of the city. Its striking exterior acts like a beacon, while the welcoming public spaces and social areas within are designed to be inviting to all; it is a cultural home.

Francesco Veenstra, partner at Mecanoo, said:
“HOME is located on a challenging triangular site in between the railway arches and a new public square. Our aim was to provide state of the art conditions for HOME’s artistic programme and create an intimate space that feels both new and familiar.”

Connecting the First Street zone with the city centre, the building’s characteristic, triangular shape creates a strong visual identity. Its rounded corners are a homage to the former Cornerhouse, a Mancunian establishment now based here. The iridescent glazed facade adorned with irregularly spaced fins opens up where public areas are located, giving the building a dynamic appearance. A terrace is located beneath the large overhang, connecting the café bar to the public square that can be used for outdoor cultural events.

“The triangular floorplan results in a number of unique rooms inhabited within the three curved corners, including the gallery, the restaurant, and one of the five cinemas which features a curved screen.”

The wide central stairwell at the heart of HOME acts as an informal social space, connecting the different uses of the venue: theatre, cinema and gallery. It encourages visitors to use the stairs instead of the lifts as the main circulation route through the building. The bars on each floor and the restaurant – an essential part of the integrated art and culture concept – are cleverly integrated into the characteristic stairwell. The interior concept and layout is that of an urban living room, instilling a sense of warmth and intimacy. The rugged concrete floors and walls contrast beautifully with the warm oak of the bars. The use of raw honest materials like wood, concrete, steel and glass underline HOME’s identity and mission to provide cutting edge visual arts, cinema and theatre.

The main theatre on the first floor contains 500 colourful seats across three levels. It is designed in a way that spectators are never more than fifteen metres from the stage. The adjacent foyer serves as a multifunctional space that can also be used outside of theatre hours. The second and third floors house the smaller flexible studio theatre space and five top-of-the-range cinemas in a range of sizes. The four metre-high flexible gallery space is located on the ground floor. The building provides outstanding sound insulation so all theatres and cinemas can be used simultaneously, without causing disturbance.

“Whereas there can be absolute silence in the theatres and cinemas, the muted sounds of the films and plays flood the hallways and public areas. It’s almost like hearing the building’s heartbeat.”