02 Nov 2023
Leeds Architecture Awards celebrate stylish schemes that are better by design
Dazzling designs that are making a difference to lives and local communities have been celebrated at this year’s Leeds Architecture Awards.
A total of 15 buildings and projects were announced over the summer as shortlisted contenders for the awards, which are a collaboration between Leeds Civic Trust, Leeds Society of Architects, Leeds City Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
And last night (Wednesday, November 1), following an expert judging process, the various winners were revealed in a ceremony held in the suitably stylish surroundings of New Briggate’s Howard Assembly Room.
Awards were presented in five main categories – new buildings (up to £10m in value), new buildings (more than £10m in value), adapted buildings, cultural projects and public realm & landscape.
The respective category winners were Maggie’s Yorkshire Centre, the University of Leeds’s Sir William Henry Bragg Building, Opera North’s Music Works, Leeds Playhouse and Moortown Park.
The Heatherwick Studio design team that worked on Maggie’s – a cancer support centre in the grounds of St James’s Hospital – had double cause for celebration as it also received the evening’s top prize, project of the year. A cheque for £1,000 was also presented in support of the work of the Maggie’s charity.
The roll-call of winners was completed by 11 & 12 Wellington Place, which was given a special sustainability award.
Guests at the ceremony heard from speakers including Councillor Helen Hayden, the council's executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure.
The three award judges – renowned architects Natalia Maximova, Robert Evans and Charles Campion – also took part in a panel discussion with event host Andrew Edwards.
This year’s awards were the first to have been held since 2019, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said:
“Leeds is a city bursting with ideas and innovation, and nowhere is that more apparent than in its ever-changing skyline and array of eye-catching buildings, structures and spaces.
“The Leeds Architecture Awards are a fine way to recognise the work that is being done to make our city an even more attractive, inclusive and environmentally-friendly place to live or visit.
“We were delighted to support the awards, and it was my pleasure to attend the ceremony and hear some of the stories behind the successful schemes. Well done to all the entrants and winners.”
Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said:
“I know that the judges thought long and hard before choosing the winners – this reflected the incredibly high quality of entries this year. Leeds Civic Trust champions high quality architectural design, and there is no doubt that this year’s competition displayed these qualities in abundance.
“I was particularly pleased that this year’s competition found time to pay tribute to Mark Finch who, as director of real estate at Rushbond PLC, led the regeneration of some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including two on the shortlist for this competition – the First White Cloth Hall and the Majestic.
“Mark sadly passed away earlier this year but it is hoped that his memory will live on through a prize at future awards ceremonies.”
Luke Sach, co-president of Leeds Society of Architects, said:
“It is an exciting time for Leeds, with a thriving architectural and built environment scene, underpinned by major regeneration and investment in the city.
“Leeds’s strengths were perfectly demonstrated by the high volume of exciting projects that were entered into the Leeds Architecture Awards, culminating in the project of the year being awarded to Maggie’s Yorkshire Centre by Heatherwick Studio.
“Thank you to everyone who entered this year, and congratulations to all the award winners and shortlisted projects – it has been an outstanding few years for architecture in Leeds. We are already excited to see what the next Leeds Architecture Awards has in store.”
Celebrating excellence in architectural design across the metropolitan borough of Leeds, the awards were open to schemes completed between July 2018 and June this year.
More than 50 entries were received, with representatives from Leeds Civic Trust, Leeds Society of Architects and Leeds City Council then whittling them down to the 15-strong shortlist that was announced in August.
Two additional entries – Moortown Park and dla architecture’s Holbeck-based Drapers Yard scheme – were then added to the shortlist at the request of the judges.
Organisers included a cultural projects category as a nod to activity taking place in the city as part of LEEDS 2023.
The awards received sponsorship support from structural building component manufacturer and designer ACS, high-performance windows, doors and smart accessory manufacturer NorDan, ceramics manufacturer Porcelanosa and external facade product provider Taylor Maxwell.
Notes to editors:
More details about the winning schemes and architects can be found below, along with excerpts from the judges’ comments.
New Buildings (up to £10m in value)
Maggie’s Yorkshire Centre, St James’s Hospital: Heatherwick Studio
This cancer support centre was opened by the Maggie’s charity in 2020. The building was constructed using a prefabricated and sustainably-sourced spruce timber system. Inside, a mix of natural and tactile materials, soft lighting and variety of spaces all encourage social opportunities as well as quiet contemplation.
The judges said: “This is a warm, beautiful and welcoming place with an almost spiritual feel. It has a calmness and serenity which belies its surroundings, and attention to detail in its choice of materials and execution is exemplary.”
New Buildings (more than £10m in value)
Sir William Henry Bragg Building, University of Leeds: ADP Architecture
This seven-storey glass-and-steel complex off Woodhouse Lane is home to the University of Leeds’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Its high-tech teaching rooms and laboratories have been designed to further establish the university as a world-leading research centre, while also providing a welcoming, accessible and modern gateway into campus.
The judges said: “This is a very successful combination of new and old, uniting pre-existing post-war structures with a substantial contemporary insertion.”
Opera North’s Music Works: Enjoy Design
Music Works has given New Briggate and Harrison Street an extra cultural dimension with the opening of the Howard Opera Centre, complete with facilities such as an education studio, tuition rooms and orchestra rehearsal space. A dedicated box office and public atrium have also been incorporated into Opera North’s Howard Assembly Room.
The judges said: “The public part of the scheme provides a sequential journey from the box office to the assembly room. The atrium space is bold and the fittings carefully conceived.”
Leeds Playhouse: Page\Park
This much-loved city centre theatre has been transformed by a reconfiguration and extension of the existing building, with a new frontage – featuring brightly-coloured ceramics – being created on St Peter’s Street. Extra seating capacity and improvements to access have also been delivered in the site’s two main performance spaces.
The judges said: “The creation of a visually arresting and yet practical new ‘front door’ achieves an important goal in reorienting the theatre towards the city centre and creates a physical manifestation of a rebranding of the theatre as a whole.”
Public realm & Landscape
Moortown Park: re-form landscape architecture with The Friends of Moortown Park
Opened at the end of 2018, this seven-acre park sits on a former corporate sports ground and provides a welcoming green space for visitors of all ages. Designed and developed to make the most of its underlying landscape, the park’s notable features include a deep woodland corridor, dog walking paths, grassy and flower meadows and a small wetland area.
The judges said: “This is an example of a well-designed (but not over-designed) flourishing and well-used urban park, which will only get better in future years.”
11 & 12 Wellington Place: tp bennett
Hailed as one of the UK’s most sustainable office developments, 11 & 12 Wellington Place’s design elements include a distinctive bridge and striking metallic bronze facades that mirror the stonework pattern of an adjacent Grade II-listed railway lifting tower. Situated between Wellington Street and Whitehall Road in the city centre, the buildings run entirely on renewable electricity.
The judges said: “Many of the schemes entered for this year’s competition displayed excellent sustainability credentials, but this building sets a new standard for Leeds.”
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