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24th April 2013

Contact theatre in architecture collaboration project

Andrew Georgeson speaks to 2nd year architecture student James Taylor-Foster about the Contact’s new architecture collaboration

Nearly every student will see the building each day of his or her university life.

However, how many of us actually realize what the building is for, its history and the important services that it offers?

The building I am referring to is the Contact Theatre, located just off Oxford Road, behind the Academy.

‘It’s peculiar’ mused 2nd year architecture student James Taylor-Foster, ‘in the sense that it is iconic, but so few are aware of it’s purpose.’

The theatre, whose recent events include hosting a series of productions for the celebration of LGBQT month, is about to undergo an ambitious 10-year rejuvenation process in order to achieve it’s long term goals of inspiring the next generation of creative leaders, artists and audiences as well as becoming more environmentally sustainable and integrating more renewable energy sources.

It is a noble and vital pursuit in the times of such austerity within the arts community, and it has been a project that the University of Manchester, as well as Manchester Council and architects Urbed have all got on board with.

When asked of the importance of the work James responded ‘it is vital. It has the basic foundations for a world-class theater, and a few alterations could turn it from an iconic Mancunian building into an iconic venue for Mancunians.’

The other students involved in the project were Nick Elsdon, Raphae Memon, Matt Iliffe, Konrad Koltun and Christia Angelidou.

In order to reach their goals, the six 2nd year students from Manchester’s school of Architecture, who became involved in the project through tutor Emily Crompton, are looking to change every aspect of the theatre, from the positioning of the stairs and the internal colour scheme for the audiences to the size of the dressing rooms for the artists.

Should the bid to the Arts Council be successful, work will begin between February and June 2015.


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