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O’Donnell + Tuomey wins University of Leeds student hub contest

O’Donnell + Tuomey has won a competition to design a ‘statement building’ for the University of Leeds
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Irish practice O’Donnell + Tuomey has won a competition to design a ‘statement building’ for the University of Leeds

The practice, working with fellow Dubliners Dermot Foley Landscape Architects, defeated bids by Cullinan Studio with Turkington Martin; Matlock-based Evans Vettori Architects with Re-Form; Nicholas Hare Architects with Fabrik and Hesketh Hayden Architects; and Reiach and Hall Architects with Rankinfraser and rtu. RobThompsonUrbanism. Images of the winning and shortlisted designs have yet to be revealed. 

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s win comes just four months after it won a contest to design a £23 million extension to Liverpool University’s School of Architecture, beating 6a architects, Eric Parry Architects, Carmody Groarke, Haworth Tompkins and Grafton Architects.

The brief for the University of Leeds competition, organised by the RIBA, called for an architect and landscape architect to deliver a 4,000m² student hub featuring innovative teaching spaces, quiet study, learning spaces, a café, maker space, functional outdoor areas, and landscaping.

The three-storey Passivhaus complex will create a centrepiece for the university’s Western Campus, replacing an existing single-storey temporary teaching block.

University of Leeds Western Campus

University of Leeds Western Campus

Source: Image by Google Earth

University of Leeds Western Campus

Practice co-founders Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey said: ‘We are delighted to find ourselves selected for this significant new building … Our concept is to make an open concourse for collaborative learning connected to teaching spaces in brick houses.

‘A multi-level forum is punctuated by planted courtyards, forest gardens that create a special identity for the social spaces. Our design has been developed from the ground up and from the inside out. The red-brick building fits into its inherited landscape, but as befits a campus landmark building, it fits in by standing out.’

Leeds University Business School deputy dean Julia Bennell said the student hub would enhance students’ educational experience ‘by bringing together support for student enterprise, innovation skills development and careers in one exceptional space.

‘The creation of innovative and sustainable educational space will also give the Business School and the School of Law the room that we need to grow. The appointment of an award-winning architectural practice signifies our intent to develop an outstanding building and I look forward to working closely with O’Donnell + Tuomey to develop our vision.’

The building is planned to complete in 2022.

Judges for the competition included Jestico + Whiles co-founder John Whiles, acting as the RIBA’s adviser; the university’s director of estates Steve Gilley; and head of the university’s law school Alistair Mullis.

The University of Leeds is the fifth largest university in the UK with about 33,300 students. Its main 40ha campus features a variety of Gothic Revival, Art Deco and Brutalist buildings, including the Grade II*-listed Roger Stevens Building by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon.

In April, it launched a £15.8 million construction consultancy services framework covering a range of projects valued above £2 million, including new builds and the refurbishment of listed structures.

Recently completed schemes include a £16 million library on Woodhouse Lane by ADP and a £40 million ‘Nexus’ building by Associated Architects. The university is partway through delivering a £200 million regeneration masterplan drawn up by ADP.

As part of the regeneration programme, a listed building management strategy has been created by Avanti Architects for the university’s nine listed post-war buildings.

O'Donnell + Tuomey's contest-winning Liverpool School of Architecture proposal

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s contest-winning Liverpool School of Architecture proposal

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s contest-winning Liverpool School of Architecture proposal

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