19th January 2023

An Icon Returns: Band on the Wall


‘‘This is Manchester, we do things differently here’’. That now immortal bold statement from the late music mogul Tony Wilson still resonates strongly with Mancunians, and iconic music venue Band on the Wall embodies that unique spirit and history that has helped solidify the city’s position as a northern powerhouse.

The legendary building dates back to around 1862, originally opening as a pub in what is now known as The Northern Quarter, with the rest of the story, quite literally being history, as some of the music industry’s most celebrated talent walked through its doors.

Recently reopening following two years of extensive redevelopment, Band on the Wall has been transformed through planned renovation works designed with accessibility in mind, and focused on increasing capacity. With a whole floor now also dedicated to an innovative learning programme, ‘World of Music’, the venue continues to make history with visitors across all generations.

Appointed as Structural and Civil Engineers on the Swan Street project, the ‘Keep on Moving’ scheme was a refurbishment and extension of the original Band on the Wall venue into the footprint of the neighbouring Cocozza Building. The works were principally funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and Arts Council England (ACE) and include the creation of a flexible studio classroom and rehearsal space, a second smaller performance area and the relocation of the existing entrance and glass frontage of the Picturehouse.

One of the key structural engineering challenges on this project was the erection of a new three-storey steel frame within the footprint of the Cocozza building, coordinated and installed in sequence that did not compromise the stability of the existing and retained façade.

The condition of the structure and supporting temporary works was a key constraint to the successful development of the Cocozza building and stabilisation of the remnants of this building was fundamental to understanding the structure and ground conditions, and permit the works to move forward. Our team advised on ways to modify the existing scaffold arrangement as part of an enabling works package to enable access into the Cocozza building for necessary building surveys to proceed.

We also worked closely with the design team, OMI Architects and project managers Buro4 to provide opportunities to construction sequencing options.

Re-opening in Spring 2022, the iconic Band on the Wall venue now houses two stages, with the smaller bar focused on showcasing young musicians and bands from the local area, with absolutely no entry fee for visitors.

Positioning itself as an international, cultural hub that celebrates all music, the ‘World of Music’ programme celebrates everyone and is open to all. From baby and toddler classes to open little ones’ eyes to the joy of music, to Jazz workshops and their over 50’s Golden Voices choir, Band on the Wall celebrates its unforgettable history whilst welcoming in the changes needed to make its present and future even stronger.

An Icon Returns: Band on the Wall