Leeds College of Music & St Peter's Square

Improved Visitor Experience, Urban short-cut and Pocket park

Extending the college outreach programme

Leeds College of Music is the largest conservatoire outside of London. The College wanted to create an inspiring welcome to all visitors and customers to one of the city’s most important concert venues. The 350-capacity auditorium is located above the BBC Yorkshire in an adjacent building to the main college. The design competition sought ideas to improve the visitor experience by providing facilities, to accommodate the venue’s audience as well as extend the college’s out­reach programme with conferencing and flexible teaching space.

The proposal consists of a new complete rooftop extension including the refurbishment of the third-floor auditorium and the provision of a new public space as a gateway to the cultural quarter.

The new flexible space provided can be subdivided into three extendible spaces for conference, teaching activities and amplified performance.  The spaces are a destination in the city; celebrating their roof top elevated position; accessible and attractive to multiple audiences and college students. The new space adds a full storey onto the existing building. Group ginger didn’t shy away from this key planning consideration and maximised the opportunity, enhancing the existing structure by providing a modern architectural addition.

The new attic is fully glazed to maximise the views across the city. To maximise the space and work within the constraints of the existing building, the new steel structure spans from an internal structural shear wall to the existing concrete perimeter ring beam. The columns, glazing module and external brise soleil are carefully coordinated to not impede the views out or close down the space.  Flexibility has been maximised by providing a space which can be physically subdivided with moveable walls and a full height theatrical curtain which provides informal control of space, light and acoustics.

A new welcoming public space is provided as a gateway to the college and the cultural quarter. The new pocket park draws on themes of performance, to create a playful public space. The design reflects the musical heritage of Leeds College of Music, as well as the artistic and performance-led culture of its neighbours; the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Dance, BBC Yorkshire, and Northern Ballet.  The new public space provides a platform for organised or impromptu outdoor performance.  Visitors are celebrated becoming key actors in the space. This is a space in which your presence and activity in addition to those of others is encouraged and not controlled.  Illuminated after dark like a garden party the celebratory permissive themes continue through all hours of the day and night. The space is now the front door to this cultural quarter; it is inviting, permissive and fun.

2016 – 2017