The Hacienda Must Be Built

Maksymilian Fus Mickiewicz


Above: People leaving the dancefloor at the Hacienda on the night of the club’s eighth birthday party, Manchester, 1990 – by Kevin Cummins

At first the relationship between the Situationist International and Manchester’s Hacienda Nightclub seems startlingly obvious. After all Ivan Chtcheglov, a founding member of the SI wrote ‘the hacienda must be built’ in his essay Formulary for a New Urbanism.[1] It’s a statement known to have both inspired the name and aims of the Hacienda Nightclub.[2] Yet there is extremely little work to be found that actually directly compares the site itself with Chtcheglov’s text. Perhaps the closest we come is the opening paragraph to The Hacienda Must Be Built, a book by music journalist Jon Savage:

“When you actually read the text, you find it speaks of reverie, to drift, to feel free. For many times during the last ten years, the Hacienda has been that space.” [3]

Even an international conference on the Situationist International held at the Hacienda in 1996 fails to mention Ivan Chtcheglov’s essay or the Hacienda as an architectural space or an idea.[4] The aim of this essay then is to pursue a thorough investigation of what Jon Savage’s paragraph eludes to. In it Formulary for a New Urbanism is treated as a manifesto for change and the Hacienda as a direct manifestation of that change. The Hacienda nightclub is a ‘trance-formative’ space in Manchester, where radical interior architecture, sub-culture, ecstasy, and acid-house were brought together in a state of play that transformed people’s perception of their urban context and thus the context itself.

As the club in itself no longer exists, fulfilling its task by 1997, much of the source material is of an archival nature. Photographs of the venue during the day, videos of it in full swing during the night, interviews with those involved in the running of the club and even art-work from Factory, the record label that funded the project. While you might expect this to result in a long nostalgic anecdote of the clubs heyday, the character and balance between sources means plenty of the low points as well as moments of amnesia are present. In fact many of the people involved repeatedly argue they would never do it again. One of the directors Peter Hook has even written a book called “The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club.” His reasoning, the fact that Hooks band New Order lost millions of pounds through the club,[5] is also however one of the reasons it was such a great success for Mancunians, and Manchester on a global level.

A key way to understand this is to see the nightclub as a community led project that answers Chtcheglov’s call to alleviate the monotony of experience available in the city.

“We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun. Between the legs of the women walking by, the dadaists imagined a monkey wrench and the surrealists a crystal cup. That’s lost. We know how to read every promise in faces — the latest stage of morphology. The poetry of the billboards lasted twenty years. We are bored in the city, we really have to strain to still discover mysteries on the sidewalk billboards, the latest state of humor and poetry.” [6]

Writing in 1953 Chtcheglov clearly feels alienated from Paris. For him cultural experience in the city has stagnated, the only artistic intervention, the only entertainment so to speak, seems to be the array of advertisements that line the streets. Most importantly “there is no longer any Temple of the Sun”; there is no ‘place of enlightenment’ in the city where cultural activities can come together. Fellow Situationist Guy Debord seeks to explain this feeling through a critical look at Baron Haussmann’s plan of Paris. It is a plan where he sees the overriding priorities as large public spaces to prevent the success of a possible revolution and a transport system to get people to and from work quickly. A city design he argues that has no other purpose than a commercial one and thus ignores the importance of culture and play for the populace.[7] These too were the urban planning faced by Manchester in the late 1970s Manchester. Inner-city Gaythorn, the area the Hacienda was to be built in, is described as “shabby and despoiled”; an industrial expanse for nearly a century, which recently had also lost its commercial industry. [8] All that was left was a landscape of derelict warehouses like those featured in the videos of Joy Division.


Above: Screen shots taken from the video for Joy Division’s – Love Will Tear Us Apart

In the video for Joy Division’s – Love Will Tear Us Apart there is visual merging of the urban environment and band members. We’re invited up an alley in a factory through a door and into an ex-industrial floor space where various shots of the band playing are edited to mirror with the high contrast rusted red colour of post-industrial Manchester. It was a song and video format with a message quite unlike the chart hits of the time. Indeed number one in August 1979, when both records were released was Gary Numan’s – Cars. In this video Numan sings in a blacked out studio at the center of a neon green pyramid structure that glows against his white make-up. He heralds a cyber future, an escapist fantasy where according to Numan: “you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world.” [9]


Above: Screen shots taken from the video for Gary Numan’s – Cars

This commercial fantasy of urban life is the exactly the one that Situationists’ despise. In his  Critique of Urban Geography  Debord makes it clear that:


The present abundance of private automobiles is one of the most astonishing successes of the constant propaganda by which capitalist production persuades the masses that car ownership is one of the privileges our society reserves for its most privileged members.”[10]

Those who have the monetary capital are persuaded through advertising to buy themselves out of reality into a commercial fantasy that cloaks their vision of the real urban environment and thus prevents a real engagement with their urban context. In contrast the lyrics of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division aim to engage with the struggle of working life.

“When routine bites hard,

And ambitions are low,

And resentment rides high,

But emotions won’t grow.

And we’re changing our ways,

Taking different roads.” [11]

They run parallel to Chtcheglov’s melancholic experience of the city, his frustration at the monotony of daily experience and search for a different route. In this way Ian Curtis became a voice for the disenfranchised who wondered post-industrial Manchester and beyond.  So much so that when the singer committed suicide in 1980 Joy Division’s reputation became legendary and record sales rose to 250,000 by 1982. [12] A bitter blow meant Curtis’ despondency had turned into cold hard cash for Factory Records.

Tony Wilson the owner of Factory hints at the moral responsibility felt within the group after Curtis’ death when asked ‘why bother building the Hacienda’ in a television interview:

“It’s necessary for every period to build its cathedrals, its necessary for any youth culture to have a place, a sense of place, and Manchester had never had one for many years. We find ourselves in a financial situation where we can do something about it, and thirdly it’s necessary for a city like Manchester, which is an important city and has been important to music to have the facilities that New York and Paris have and to not have them would be a disgrace.” [13]

As the manager of Joy Division he’d seen crowds flock to the band gigs, understood the disenfranchisement they felt, the power music had on them, and the reason Factory Records had suddenly turned a profit with the singer’s death. In particular Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas on the transfer of ‘cultural capital’ to ‘economic capital’ are incredibly useful here.  In simple terms for Bourdieu we have to treat cultural capital such as arts and music on an equal level to economic capital as something as ‘symbolic’ as a PHD qualification can in theory mean you earn a higher salary than someone without a PHD qualification. [14] Thus what was previously regarded as outside the domain of an economic context can now be understood within one.  If we extend this formula to architectural studies we can further understand the urban environment as having great value. The despondency created through the experience of the city manifested through Joy Division music on Factory resonated with an audience and created cultural capital which then became converted into monetary capital. Rather then spend the profits as an end of year bonus Factory would launch the Hacienda; converting economic capital back into cultural capital and eventually regenerative urban capital. Furthermore it answers Chtcheglov’s call for a place that will excite the imagination, a ‘Temple of the Sun’, a Hacienda. “And you, forgotten, your memories ravaged by all the consternations of two hemispheres, stranded in the Red Cellars of Pali-Kao, without music and without geography.” [15] Formulary for a New Urbanism was written as an address to those who felt disenfranchised, alienated from their own surroundings.  And as a space Factory Records certainly wanted to establish the Hacienda as a place for a new music scene that would put Manchester on the map. As an architectural space the club would quite literally capture local sub-culture, re-format it, and play it to back to ecstatic crowds.  It was a place designed for youth to congregate, experiment with their identity and re-establish their city as the place to be.

As Chtcheglov makes clear this could only be done by building on the cultural capital of Manchester. “All cities are geological.” He states. “You can’t take three steps without encountering ghosts bearing all the prestige of their legends” [16] In many ways Manchester’s musical past, it’s industrial heritage, was something to be proud of, not to be ignored, despite it’s clear demise. In order to achieve this Chtcheglov offers a formula for urban regeneration in the strictest sense. “These dated images retain a small catalyzing power, but it is almost impossible to use them in a symbolic urbanism without rejuvenating them by giving them a new meaning.”[17] Rather than demolish an urban context or start from a virgin piece of land his idea of urban regeneration is to appropriate the symbolic heritage of an urban context and give it new meaning, in many ways advocating a recycling of ideas and forms.

It comes as little surprise then that Ben Kelly the Interior Architect of the Hacienda was given a brief that aimed to incorporate elements of Factory Records and Manchester’s heritage into the clubs design.  Guided by Peter Saville the labels Art Director he first began with a look at the record sleeves that the label produced in order to interpret the 2D into the 3D. [18] However Saville’s colour scheme and minimalism soon proved to be limited in an architectural sense.


Above: Fac. 1: a poster for Factory nights predating the Hacienda designed by Peter Saville. It was the first item in the Factory Records official catalogue. The Hacienda was catalogued as Fac.51.

Instead Kelly developed a design process that would take materials from the surrounding area of Gaythorn.  It was about “taking [industrial materials] out of that context and putting them into a new context and when you eventually put the elements together you hopefully establish a new language of materials that says something new and different.” [19] In this way Factory had a club which literally recycled Manchester’s symbolic industrial heritage. Furthermore it applied the functionality associated with industrial design into a functionality that would dictate how the dancefloor operated.

“We were quite worried about females catching their high heels in the cats eye’s [around the dancefloor] so we came up with the idea of using bollards, which you’d see on the side of the road set in line with the actual cat’s eyes on the dancefloor so as they act as a filtering system on and off the dancefloor.”[20]

The dancefloor became a factory floor.


Above: Interior architecture of the Hacienda from a in the Architectural Review (1982) Vol. 172 – Issue 1027. P.78-79

It was a radical break from the interior design for music venues not only in Manchester but across the world.  Urban historian Ed Gilnert describes how ‘punters were lured by Ben Kelly’s austere industrial decor – not a potted plant or plush carpet in sight.’ [21] Clearly stating its pride in Manchester heritage, exorcising ghosts of the past, the Hacienda was designed in a way quite unlike any other club had. The aim was in Tony Wilson’s eyes to make you incredibly aware of the fact you were in Manchester.

“If you drive through the streets of Manchester to get here, if you walked into a space that was anything else, that had velveteen sofas, a renovated staircase approach of The Camden Palace you’d feel like you weren’t in Manchester anymore but here you’re still in Manchester; the industrial shapes, the lines, the steel is and can be beautiful outside as well as inside.”[22]

The bold red and yellow colours usually synonymous with hazard in an industrial workplace came to express Factory Records as at once apart from the other discos and live venues in Manchester yet closer then any of them to the city itself.

Critics may argue that in fact the Hacienda is close to the De Stijl movement in it’s abstract use of colour and harmonious arrangement. The use of primary colours and horizontal lines are key ingredients to Piet Mondrian’s formula for Le Néo-plasticisme [23]and the functionality of the project bears resemblance to the Rietveld Schroder House. It would mirror Mondrian’s idea that art should have the ‘internal externalized and the external internalized.’ [24]


Above: interior of Rietveld Schröder House in the De Stijl style by architect Gerrit Rietveld.

It is a criticism as clearly Chtcheglov was keen to do away with Neo-plasticism in his vision of future architecture. “Abstraction has invaded all the arts” he declares with disdain. “Contemporary architecture in particular. Pure plasticity, inanimate and storyless, soothes the eye.”[25] He sees the architecture of the day as a failed attempt to integrate modern technology with they imagination of folk lore. Yet in the context of nightclub typology the Hacienda unconsciously or consciously appropriated this style with a very different aim.  Most venues deliberately had no style whatsoever, places with minimum decor you wouldn’t be able to recognise in the daytime so different club nights could take over the space.[26] With the Hacienda the aim was deliberately to make the venue dominant and the nights function within that context, the context of Manchester, and in this sense it brought to life the symbolic hi(story) that Chtcheglov longed for.

Another way that the Hacienda satisfied the criteria set out by Formularly For  was that it could quickly change its decor and function. The lighting system was designed to resemble that of a theatre’s rather than a typical disco so more could be highlighted in the club than purely the act of dancing, in fact Wilson also envisaged the space as a place the local theatre could stage productions, fitness classes could take place or even a day time market. [27] The Hacienda was never designed as simply a music venue. It was also the antithesis of Le Corbusier’s modernist style of architecture. The facade of the Hacienda was circular rather than straight edged, Victorian red brick rather than whitewashed concrete. Although appropriated with the purchase of the building rather than purposefully designed, it represented Factory Records appreciation of Manchester’s vernacular architecture, and gave it new life with the official Fac. 51 catalogue seal. The appeal of architecture such as the Hacienda as an ideal form of beauty is better explained in Simon Sadler’s book the Situationist City. Here he demonstrates that the Situationist’s ideal building was beautiful because it was visually attractive to look at in itself but that it also represented a certain type of optimism. [28] The facade of the Hacienda became symbolic despite its modesty and those who recognised it also recognised that inside there was a space of play.


Left: the Hacienda’s redbrick exterior.             


   Right: the official Fac. 51 seal of approval.


Above: Villa Savoye, a typical whitewash modernist construction of Corbusier’s.

A more problematic issue surrounding the Hacienda is the issue of whether it was a post-modern site. Much of the Situationist writings have been linked to Post-Modernist thinkers with “Baudirriliad’s hyper reality” related to “Debord’s spectacle,” and the Situationist concept of derive, with “the philosophical ‘drifting thought’ of Lyotard.”[29] Indeed Factory Record hit True Faith by New Order was recently featured in the Victoria and Albert’s exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion. Ben Kelly is strongly opposed to this association in terms of the design of the Hacienda.  The crumbling archway he argues was “me trying to poke fun at post-modernism, which had reared its ugly head at the time, and which I felt very uncomfortable with. “[30] Rather than a complex challenge to Modernism it was closer to the Situationist’s call for a state of play, as a writer in the Architectural Review states “mercifully” he has “no theoretical axe to grind.”[31]

In this way the Hacienda became the perfect Situationist piece of architecture and the perfect setting for clubbers. “Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning… The latest technological developments would make possible the individual’s unbroken contact with cosmic reality while eliminating its disagreeable aspects.”[32] The Hacienda’s urban context within the architectural space too makes it clear that the venues audiences would link there experience back to symbolically to Manchester. This was quite unlike most other clubs which had no other purpose than to provide hedonistic pleasure. In Sarah Thornton’s description most were “interior havens with such presence that the dancers forget local time and place.” [33] They were places of escapism. The architecture in the Hacienda was present rather than invisible. It had the power to modify “present conceptions of time and space.” It became “both a means of knowledge and a means of action.” [34] Later after the design was finished Factory installed the DJ booth on the balcony of the club so it was high above yet hidden above the dancefloor. Here DJ’s could become invisible actors, controlling the crowd, playing records at a higher or lower Beat Per Minute or mood. Those who controlled the music and lighting in their invisibility could become part of the architecture, and so the Hacienda became a machine in itself that could alter conceptions of time and space.

This new architecture created the new civilization the Situationists dreamed of. A place which became many people’s temple, where the night became the time to live, and a new conception of behaviours were formed. [35]  It was an architectural space of liberation which you could drift in and out of from different parts of the city for a few hours or even a few years. Unlike most clubs it broke down hierarchy and brought people together. In Club Cultures Thornton stresses how legislation allowed clubs to discriminate between the race, age and gender of those who wished to enter. [36] Those who remember the Hacienda such as DJ Mike Pickering fondly remember how there were various scenes from ‘black kids to working class kids from sink estates who rubbed shoulders with homosexuals and bohemians alike.’[37] Many would like to put this down to ecstasy. And indeed it’s undeniable that the drug MDMA activated the heyday of the club where ‘the liberation of humanity from material cares’ occurred.[38] Manchester’s and the UK’s 1988 summer of love began at the Hacienda nightclub.  There was also something more subtle going on at the nightclub however, which was a collective spirit of Manchester. Salts a Hacienda regular describes how the people began to reflect on each other differently within the club space:

“People’s musical tastes changed, their attitude towards black music. Magazines and bands took to black music. Fashion played a big part; people were getting into tracksuits, dressing loosely, less emphasis on looking good for everyone else. Now there’s a big percentage who feel they don’t need the drug to reach that state. To be able to remove themselves from the drug. And feeling, was it the drug, or was it us? If they capture the same vibe without the drug, we’ve got a serious utopia. Ideal state. Now there aren’t as many individuals at the Hacienda but there’s a fine line between individuality and clubness, and there’s a collective clubness within the club.” [39]

Those that took part in the activities of the Hacienda became less concerned about hierarchy, the need to do better than one another, the economic drive of a capitalist system and more about each other as a collective, who could revel in self-expression of identity.




Above, left and right: the various individuals in the club collectively revel in the opportunity to express their own fantasies and desires.

The Hacienda was the rallying point that Chtcheglov sought, the result of the experimentations in behaviour he advocated. It was a place in the city that acted symbolically to represent the city and successfully bring the city together. Even though at times this meant that gangs also became involved in the ‘scene’ it remained a place of ‘comfort and security’ for the majority of it’s time. It’s testament to the Hacienda that when 16 year old Claire Leighton died having taken an ecstasy pill the leader of Manchester City Council wrote to the magistrates court surrounding the inquiry reassuring them of the clubs positive influence.  “Graham Stringer, wrote to the magistrates court explaining that the Hacienda made a ‘significant contribution to the active use of the city centre core’ in line with the governments own policy of regenerating urban areas.”[40] The Hacienda had succeeded in converting the cultural capital of Manchester into real economic growth. In fact Gilnert asserts the effect was felt way beyond the clubs closure.  “The opening of the Hacienda in a former yacht warehouse here in 1982 revitalised what was a depressed area, and other venues were soon clamouring for an address close to the dramatic backdrops of railway viaducts, canals and decaying Victorian brickwork.”[41] Even today the clubs name is born by a property development that stylistically references it’s clubbing past and symbolically stands for the redevelopment of Gaythorn into a property hot spot. [42]

Such is the magnetism of the idea of the Hacienda now that people visit the reincarnated property development that calls itself the Hacienda. It has become a cathedral which embodies many different fantasies for many different people. Perhaps most importantly it was a space that in its conception and legacy was about far more then a chemical compound. Chtcheglov mentions the different quarters of the city the Happy Quarter or the Historical Quarter for instance. And undoubtedly as a solid piece of architecture the Hacienda through various means created its own Cultural Quarter within the city but perhaps most appropriately with its deconstruction the Hacienda has dispersed back into the music, art and cultural identity of Manchester. Those who wish to pursue it must in true Situationist style now ‘continuously drift.’


Chtcheglov, Ivan. (1953) Formulary for a New Urbanism:


Savage, John. (1992) The Hacienda Must be Built, Woodford Green, International Music Publications, P.17 

The Hacienda must be built: on the legacy of Situationist revolt, The Hacienda, Manchester, 1996

Perry, Andrew. (2009) ‘How Not To Run A Nightclub,’ Telegraph

Gilnert, Ed. (2008) The Manchester Compendium: a street by street guide to England’s greatest industrial city. London, Allen Lane P.59

Anderson, Phillip. (2001) Interview with Gary Numan. Kaos 2000 Magazine .

Debord, Guy. (1955) Critique of Urban Geography

Curtis, Ian (1979). Love Will Tear Us Apart EP

‘Afterwards: the eternal’ –

Knobl, Wolfgang. (2011) The legacy of Pierre Bourdieu : critical essays / edited by Simon Susen and Bryan S Turner. London ; New York : Anthem Press. 

Henkels, H. (2009)Grove Art Online.

Thornton, Sarah. (1995) Club cultures: music, media and subcultural capital / Cambridge : Polity.

Sadler, Simon. (1998) The Situationist City, Formulary For A New Urbanism, Cambridge Mass; London : MIT.

Sim, Stuart, (2004) Routledge Companion to Post-Modernism. Routledge.

Best, Alistair, (1982) Architectural Review: vol. 172 – Issue: 1027.

Williams, Richard, (2006) ‘This Charming Manchester’ Blueprint:, Vol.1 – Issue: 246.


[1] Chtcheglov, Ivan. (1953) Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2012

[2] Savage, John. (1992) The Hacienda Must be Built, Woodford Green, International Music Publications, P.17

[3] Savage, P. 17

[4]  See: The Hacienda must be built: on the legacy of Situationist revolt, The Hacienda, Manchester, 1996

[5] Perry, Andrew. (2009) ‘How Not To Run A Nightclub,’ Telegraph Last accessed 24/04/12

[6]  Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/12

[7] Debord, Guy. (1955) Critique of Urban Geography Last accessed 24/04/12

[8] Gilnert, Ed. (2008) The Manchester Compendium: a street by street guide to England’s greatest industrial city. London, Allen Lane P.59

[9] Anderson, Phillip. (2001) Interview with Gary Numan. Kaos 2000 Magazine . Last accessed 24/04/2012

[10]  Debord, Critique of Urban Geography Last accessed 24/04/12

[11]  Curtis, Ian (1979). Love Will Tear Us Apart EP

[12] ‘Afterwards: the eternal’ Last accessed 24/04/12

[13] ‘Tony Wilson + Hacienda = Thank You’ (retrieved footage in 2007) Last accessed 24/04/12

[14]  Knobl, Wolfgang. (2011) The legacy of Pierre Bourdieu : critical essays / edited by Simon Susen and Bryan S Turner. London ; New York : Anthem Press.  PP.15-17

[15] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/12

[16] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/12

[17] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/12

[18] Savage, P21

[19] ‘Tony Wilson + Hacienda = Thank You’ Last accessed 24/04/2004

[20] ‘Tony Wilson + Hacienda = Thank You’

Last accessed 24/04/2004

[21]  Gilnert, P. 59

[22] ‘Tony Wilson + Hacienda = Thank You’ Last accessed 24/04/2004

[23]  Henkels, H (2009) Grove Art Online Last accessed 24/04/2004

[24]  Henkels, H (2009) Grove Art Online Last accessed 24/04/2004

[25] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2004

[26] Thornton, Sarah. (1995) Club cultures : music, media and subcultural capital / Cambridge : Polity, P.22

[27] ‘Tony Wilson + Hacienda = Thank You’  Last accessed 24/04/2004

[28]  Sadler, Simon. (1998) The Situationist City, Formulary For A New Urbanism, Cambridge Mass; London : MIT. P.73

[29] Sim, Stuart, (2004) Routledge Companion to Post-Modernism. Routledge. P. 308

[30] Savage, P.21

[31] Best, Alistair, (1982) Architectural Review: vol. 172 – Issue: 1027.  P.81

[32] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2012

[33]  Thornton, 21

[34] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2012

[35] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2012

[36] Thornton, 24

[37]  Savage, 38

[38] Chtcheglov, Formulary for a New Urbanism: Last accessed 24/04/2012

[39] Savage, P. 40

[40] Gilnert, P.61

[41] Gilnert, P.59

[42] Williams, Richard, (2006) ‘This Charming Manchester’ Blueprint:, Vol.1 – Issue: 246, P.29


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