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Student turns former Leeds library into Political Playground


A Leeds Beckett University graduating student’s designs to bring life back to a well-loved derelict Leeds building has earned her an accolade at the UK’s largest graduate art and design show.

Rosie's design work

Rosie Marsden, who graduated this week on Wednesday 27 July with a BA (Hons) degree in Interior Architecture and Design, received third prize in the Best 2D Representation category at the Interior Educators’ Student Awards 2016 in London for her design project which transforms the grade two listed building on York Road, formerly Leeds Library and Bath House. More than 450 interior design students from 34 universities submitted projects to the prestigious competition. 

Rosie, who is 23 and originally from Liverpool, created The Political Playground to reconnect the Library with the city and give it a fresh purpose.

Rosie with her design at the exhibition

She explained: “My design proposes that the Library is re-imagined into a parliamentary education facility. Its aim is to reach out to young people, engaging them with the world of politics in an interactive and playful way, whilst providing a platform for the youth voice. The Political Playground would be aimed at secondary school children between the ages of 11 and 18, tackling the growing problem of youth engagement in politics and encouraging real change through exhibitions, workshops, theatre and performance. 

“My inspirations for the designs were developed through concept work, modelling and experimentation. Site visits and other case studies helped me to determine how the spaces needed to be designed. 

“The re-design features many architectural interventions to create a unique and exciting space. Main features of the re-design were the development of pathways to lead the user around the spaces. The pathways can allow the user many choices of direction with freedom of space or they can become restricting, forcing the user into certain directions and creating conceptual divides within the spaces. Other design features were inspired by the contrast of brief and user, which coincides with the reality of opposition within the political world. By being specifically designed to provide an unbiased experience, The Political Playground allows the young people to form their own opinions and develop a meaningful interest in the subject.”

Main section of Rosie's design

Speaking about her achievements, Rosie said: “I am so happy about the award: I never expected it after seeing the competition and the sheer amount of other students exhibiting. It’s an honour to have my work recognised by top industry judges and has made all the hard work worthwhile. 

“I'm very excited to graduate and to begin a career relating to my degree. I am planning on applying to architecture practices across Liverpool and Manchester first, then eventually thinking of moving to London. I would love to see my project developed and to get in contact with MPs to become involved with tackling youth engagement in politics.”

Rosie's design drawings

Joan Love, Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture and Design (IAD) at Leeds Beckett, added: “The IAD team of tutors are incredibly proud of Rosie’s hard-earned success at the Interior Educators Awards and in tackling a newsworthy political brief. The judges commented that they were particularly impressed by the highly ‘one off’ graphic approach to her 2-dimensional presentation drawings.”

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