Cobden Works

The UK’s first purpose-built outdoor arts creative hub

Situated on Cobden Street in Salford, Walk the Plank’s new home is the final realisation of our vision for a combined space in which we can bring all the key elements of our operation (with the exception of pyrotechnics) under one roof.  For safety reasons, our massive fireworks fusing compound remains in an unidentified site at Rainford, away from any residential housing.

Designed by Liverpool-based Architectural Emporium, built by contractors Skyline Construction, and lead-funded by Arts Council England, Cobden Works is an innovative scheme which involves re-purposing a series of light industrial units into a mixed used complex, complete with an indoor courtyard, and a new-build element for our main head office and admin functions.

Walk the Plank’s architectural history has been as rich and colourful as our portfolio of work.

Initially, back in 1992, we did everything from our touring ship the Fitzcarraldo, before taking up occupancy of a lock up unit near to Salford Quays and then moving on to a converted end terrace next to an Indian take-away) in Broad Street.

The business case for a new purpose-built multi-purpose creative hub was as simple as it was compelling.  Essentially, we needed a home which brought our extensive fabrication and making facilities under the same roof as our office team (which houses admin, marketing, production and senior management), along with a dedicated training and learning facility.  Prior to our opening in August, all these functions were housed in separate and disparate locations which led to a drain on our resources, particularly in transporting new pieces of work from our former making space in Ramsbottom.

The design brief

Working in close collaboration with Architectural Emporium, we briefed them to come up with a flexible space that gave us:

  1. Two production workshops (a heavy duty fabrication space and a ‘clean’ workshop for lighter making tasks
  2. A training and rehearsal space – perfect for our masterclasses and training programmes
  3. Offices – to house admin, finance, marketing, production as well as meeting rooms
  4. Catering and dining – a fully fitted kitchen and eating space overlooking an enclosed courtyard for communal events
  5. Outdoor space for loading and unloading lorries heading to or coming back from gigs.

Building design features

  1. These retain the original outer walls of the former plant but have been re-purposed for our fabrication needs with a mix of facilities and power tools, and a major loading bay door for instant heavy duty access.  Separate main gate access for large trucks and lorries.
  2. Training space. Retaining the roof line of its original, this new yellow flooredspace is fully equipped with projection equipment, blackout theatre drapes and adjustable lighting to provide a flexible studio-style space for rehearsals, talks and training events.
  3. Pyramid offices. This two storey new build element has first floor office space for our entire team as well as two ground floor meeting rooms, a fully fitted kitchen and communal eating area.
  4. Entrance hall with fully accessible disabled toilet, meet and greet space and hot desking area. Accessed via landscaped walkway from gated car park.
  5. Inner courtyard. Retaining the roof line of the original space, this open air courtyard is accessed via both the training space and ground floor eating area through a series of double doors.  Features include extensive planting, outdoor seating and a pizza oven.

Cobden Works is lead funded by Arts Council England with generous support from, CHK Charities Ltd, Garfield Weston Foundation, Oglesby Charitable Trust and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

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