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Shortlist in University of Leeds student hub contest revealed

University of Leeds Western Campus
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The RIBA has announced the five-strong shortlist in its contest for a new ‘statement building’ for the University of Leeds

The finalists include O’Donnell + Tuomey, winner of the recent competition for the new Liverpool School of Architecture, which has submitted its bid with fellower Dubliners, Dermot Foley Landscape Architects.

The other shortlisted teams are: 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.

The competition bref called for an architect and landscape architect to deliver a new 4,000m² student hub featuring innovative teaching spaces, quiet study, social and peer learning spaces, a café, maker space, functional outdoor areas, and landscaping.

The three-storey Passivhaus complex will form a new centrepiece for the university’s Western Campus. It will replace an existing single-storey temporary teaching block which occupies a former cricket pitch.

Julia Bennell, deputy dean of the Leeds University Business School said: ‘The response to the competition was outstanding, with a large number of strong contenders, which we believe reflects the uniqueness of this opportunity to create an innovative and sustainable space for the University of Leeds students. Congratulations to those who are shortlisted.’

Planned to complete in 2022, the new student hub provide a ‘community heart of the Western Campus – both for business and law students, and for students from across the university.’

The five finalists will now be invited to draw up conceptual proposals for the new complex. A honorarium of £6,000 + VAT is available to each team. Submissions will be judged 75 per cent on quality and 25 per cent on cost.

Judges will include Jestico + Whiles co-founder John Whiles, who will be acting as RIBA Adviser; Steve Gilley, director of estates at The University of Leeds; and Alistair Mullis, head of the university’s law school. An overall winner will be announced in October.

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, the University of Leeds 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.

Recent schemes delivered by the university include a £16 million library on Woodhouse Lane by ADP. The university is part way through delivering a £200 million regeneration masterplan draw up by ADP.

Upcoming projects include a new £40 million ‘Nexus’ building by Associated Architects. 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. 

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