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Hawkins\Brown reveals £75m Leeds art school plans

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AJ100 practice Hawkins\Brown has unveiled designs for a £75 million city centre arts school for Leeds Beckett University

The 14,500m² scheme is set to house 1,850 students studying film, music, performing arts and fashion, and currently spread across the city. The creative arts building is earmarked for a site next to the 1933 Grade II*-listed Civic Hall and Sheppard Robson’s 2009 Rose Bowl business school.

The development will include a 186-seat theatre, an 84-seat studio theatre, a 216-seat cinema, recording studios, TV studio and film studios, as well as other teaching and breakout spaces.

The scheme is jointly backed by Downing Developments and forms ‘a major part’ of the university’s ongoing £200 million campus development plan, which will be delivered over the next five years.

Hawkins\Brown partner Roger Hawkins said: ‘The building provides a welcoming creative hub that will encourage new collaborations between courses and enable the university to engage with the wider society to form an innovative cultural dialogue.

‘The aim to create spaces for students, staff and visitors to interact and learn from each other was key to our design approach on this project.’

Subject to planning, works on site will begin at the end of the year, with completion estimated to be in 2020.

The architect’s view

The new Creative Arts building, located at the edge of the Civic Quarter of Leeds, occupies a prominent site 10 minutes’ walk from the main cultural and retail amenities of the city centre. It is the final phase of delivery of the Downing Developments masterplan, a 46,400m² development that most recently delivered the Cityside student accommodation scheme.

With Leeds General Infirmary to the west, the site is clearly visible from Millennium Square and is directly opposite the listed Civic Hall to the east. Careful integration of the proposals into this historic setting has been the subject of extensive consultation and liaison with the planning department.

The entrance foyer is designed as a welcoming open space, accommodating a 4.5m level change across the site with a feature staircase that connects the publicly accessible areas of the building. An atrium that rises up to the fifth floor is animated by projecting social learning spaces, writing sheds and conversation dens. The lower floors house the theatre, triple-height TV studio and a cinema.

The complexity and richness of the building’s brief has generated an approach to the building’s envelope expressive of the activities within, while creating a coherency to the whole building form and language.

The façade of stone, bronze-coloured anodised metal and translucent polycarbonate is appropriately civic

A façade palette of stone, bronze-coloured anodised metal cladding and translucent polycarbonate cladding is appropriately civic, responding to the listed structures in the immediate context of the Civic Hall. To Portland Way and Calverley Street, the façade acts as a framework communicating the activity and creativity within. In other locations the playful patterning reflects the interior’s rich mix of technical uses.

Hawkins brown leeds beckett arts (6)

Project data

Client Leeds Beckett University
Development partner Downing Developments
Architect Hawkins\Brown
Structural and civil engineering Alan Johnston Partnership
M+E design WSP
Auditoria design Charcoalblue
Cost advice SUM
CDM consultant Rawlings
Fire engineering Omega Fire
Acoustic engineering AEC
BREEAM consultancy Hoare Lea
Estimated start on site End of 2017
Estimated completion 2020
Cost £75 million


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