The idea of placemaking has become particularly prominent in central Manchester over the past half decade. Buildings are no long just built, or redeveloped, they form focal points for community masterplans, construction and reconstruction catalysing comprehensive overhauls of entire blocks, sometimes more. Leno Ex Machina is one example, with the team behind celebrated Detroit-style pizza and live music paradise Ramona and The Firehouse next door setting their sites on ambitious plans to transform a former-industrial complex on Ducie Street into a thriving, creatively-driven neighbourhood.
Many things to many people, Leno Ex Machina was the first phase of this sprawling site to open, and in itself offers a 5,000 capacity, 250,000 square foot space for eating, drinking, dancing and debauch-ing. This is where Manchester’s biggest warehouse kitchen can be found, with Pizza Ex Machina one of the main highlights. Taking inspiration from both Naples and New York City, bases and toppings here are among the most unique in town, and given the fierce competition that’s saying something. Meanwhile, Italian small plates, wood-fired Piadino, and the Leno burgers are also on offer.
Of course, bites are often better when accompanied by booze, and Rum Ex Machina, the venue’s dedicated bar concept, more than caters to the thirsty. As the name implies, those with a penchant for Caribbean-inspired tipples will do well here, and Daiquiris are the biggest selling point. In total, 49 individual variations on the frozen cocktail are available, pouring from a staggering 14 machines, which provide a focal point for the huge space. Add a network of vertical stages, stairways and platforms to offer a truly immersive area for club nights, live gigs and more, and it’s very easy to understand why Leno Ex Machina caused such a stir when it first arrived as the city’s freshest-thinking industrial party destination.