What can cities do to encourage cultural experiments and investment? And what kind of spaces do artists need for creativity to flourish?

• Juliana Engberg is programme director for European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017. She was artistic director of the 19th Sydney Biennale

Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon of OMA architecture practice are in conversation at the Manchester International festival, talking about the major contract they landed for the Manchester arts centre Factory: a hub for cultural activity and soon to be home of the Manchester festival. “We need to give more attention to the technology of buildings, robotics, new spatial management,” Koolhaas says. I feel the bristling of the humans in the room.

But he is on to something. Space is often wasted by use of repetition but with canny robotics, and snuggled pullies, you can enfold and stack space that was once elongated and create something new from it – in the case of the proposed Factory, a rationalised chaos of adjustable use and activity.

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