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Planning approval for new Creative Arts building

Leeds Beckett University has received planning permission for its new £75 million Creative Arts building.

Artist Impression of the new Creative Arts building

The 14,500 sq m development will provide an iconic home for academic, creative and cultural activities in the civic heart of Leeds, becoming a stand-out landmark site for the Northern Film School, Music, Performing Arts and Fashion students. The project aims to attract new audiences and facilitate dialogue between the University, its partners and the wider city.

The proposed building, designed by Hawkins\Brown in conjunction with development partner Downing Developments will be home to nearly 2,000 students and staff, who are currently spread across various separate locations in the city. Assembling the different courses under one roof will create an inspiring artistic and cultural hub, allowing the University to enhance the transferable skills and employability of their students through bespoke specialist facilities and collaborative social learning spaces.

Andrew Fryer, Dean of the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett, said: “The Creative Arts building will provide a home for our creative community of academics, students, researchers and practitioners, with spaces full of character that draw on Leeds Beckett University’s heritage for diverse learning skills opportunities. At the centre of the building will be innovative learning spaces, which will allow students and staff from the school to collaborate in new and dynamic ways. We want this to be a centrepiece for the growing cultural landscape of Leeds, a part of the City's European Capital of Culture 2023 bid and a place to meet, drop by or simply visit because it’s just a great place to be.”

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett University, added: “Leeds Beckett plays a vital role in the health of the city and region, generating jobs and prosperity. The Creative Arts building will provide a new city marker, elevating the visibility of the university at this important city location and providing a resource that we believe will contribute to the creative economy in Leeds. This outstanding new building will provide a creative focus for the School’s undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and research and enterprise programmes and act as a hub for our cultural and industry partnerships across the city.”

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 bordered by Downing’s Central Campus Development to the North and Leeds General Infirmary to the West. The site is clearly visible from Millennium Square and is directly opposite the listed Civic Hall – a historic setting which informed the building’s design.

The building will include a wealth of outstanding specialist facilities that include: dedicated studios for fashion; performing arts and music performance; a theatre as well as a black box studio; a 220 seat Dolby Atmos cinema; a TV studio, three large film studios as well as a green screen studio; a stop motion studio; Foley studios, dubbing and music recording studios; acoustic labs and a suite of post-production studios.  In addition, there will be other specialist teaching spaces that will foster inter-disciplinary collaboration, creative talent and knowledge sharing.

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 of the building house the theatre, triple height TV studio and a cinema.

Each part of the building is designed to reflect the course within, while the materiality and approach to the façades ensures the coherency of the whole building. The façade palette of stone and metal cladding chosen by Hawkins\Brown is understated and neutral, acting as a backdrop for the activity and creativity within the building and responding to listed structures in the site’s context.

Works on site will begin end of 2017, with completion estimated to be in 2020.

Visit our Creative Arts building page for the latest updates on the development.

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