About Cobden Works

The UK’s first purpose-built outdoor arts creative hub, and award-winning too.

Walk the Plank’s RIBA-award winning new home is the realisation of our vision for a combined space in which we can bring the key elements of our operation under one roof.

Designed by Liverpool-based Architectural Emporium, built by contractors Skyline Construction, and lead-funded by Arts Council England, Cobden Works re-purposes a series of light industrial units into a mixed used complex, complete with an indoor courtyard, fabrication workshops and a new-build element giving accessible workspace for artists and producers, all of which is available to hire

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 portacabin at Salford Quays and then moving on to a converted end terrace in Broad Street which we finally vacated in August 2017 to move into Cobden Works.

In May 2018, at the North West RIBA awards, Cobden Works was awarded a RIBA North West Award 2018, with Walk the Plank itself winning Client of the Year Award for the way it worked with its project team during the development process, and with Architectural Emporium awarded RIBA North West Emerging Practice of the Year.

The RIBA judges said:

“Working on a shoestring budget, they found a site in an industrial area – a rather hostile environment of waste plants and heavy lorries. The client commissioned an emerging architect practice to create a range of working spaces, and this has produced a successful collaboration.”

John Wassell, Walk the Plank co-founder and Cobden Works project lead said:

“Creating our new Cobden Works home has been an exciting collaboration with Architectural Emporium who really got what we were about and understood what we wanted to achieve. Winning a hattrick of awards is confirmation of the originality and creative risk that went into making this building the distinctive place that it is.”

Building design features

  1. Workshops. 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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