Leeds Beckett Architecture Recognised in UK Breakthroughs List
A new community centre developed by RIBA Chartered Architecture Consultancy Project Office, a research collaboration between staff and students at Leeds Beckett University, has been named as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives.
The MadeAtUni list of breakthroughs demonstrates how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives, including the discovery of penicillin, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans to check the health of unborn babies and the establishment of the Living Wage.
Located in Leeds’ most deprived area and with no funds for architectural consultancy, the New Wortley Community Association approached Project Office for help to design an inspirational multi-purpose space. Student led community engagement followed by a design competition for architecture students led to a successful BIG Lottery Reaching Communities bid of £750k to build the New Wortley Community Centre.
Project Office coordinated the design team and produced the construction drawings with graduate employees, while landscape architecture students designed the external realm, graphics students designed signage and product design students produced built-in furniture as part of their degree coursework. In total 196 people participated in the project.
The list was compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of a campaign to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK. It follows independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks which found that the public has little understanding of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings show that research is one of the key triggers to change opinion about universities but for many people, it is an abstract concept.
Craig Stott (MEng, BArch, MA, ARB) is a Project Office co-director, Architect and Senior Architecture Lecturer at the Leeds School of Architecture, Leeds Beckett University.