Leeds Architecture Awards 2023: Shortlist celebrating the best-looking buildings and projects in the city announced

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Fifteen of Leeds’ greatest architectural achievements have been shortlisted for this year’s award, narrowing it down from over 50 entries.

The finalists for the 2023 Leeds Architecture Awards have been announced, narrowing over 50 entries down to just 15, including Leeds School of Art, University of Leeds’ Newlyn Building and the Playhouse Gardens.

The award is a collaboration between Leeds Civic Trust, Leeds Society of Architects, Leeds City Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and celebrates excellence in architectural design across the metropolitan borough of Leeds completed between July 1, 2018 and June 16, 2023. 

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Leeds Playhouse is among the finalists. Picture by Jim StephensonLeeds Playhouse is among the finalists. Picture by Jim Stephenson
Leeds Playhouse is among the finalists. Picture by Jim Stephenson

It’s the first city-wide architectural awards since 2019 when the awards ceremony was held in Leeds Town Hall.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said:  “Leeds has a proud heritage of design excellence, and the architects of today are doing a fine job of maintaining that tradition in interesting and inclusive ways. 

“The shortlisted buildings, public spaces and projects are all playing their part in making our city a distinctive, thought-provoking, environmentally friendly and welcoming place to live, work, visit and spend time. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Leeds Civic Trust Director Martin Hamilton said: “I would like to thank all entrants for their submissions.  The quality was very high, and the judges had a very difficult decision to make in identifying a shortlist.”

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Leeds Architecture Awards 2023 shortlist

Leeds Footbridge over the river Aire. Leeds Footbridge over the river Aire.
Leeds Footbridge over the river Aire.

These are the 15 shortlisted projects as described by the jury:

Cultural projects

Leeds Playhouse: Page\Park Architects 

The project was described as: "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."

Leeds School of Arts: Hawkins/Browns 

The project was described as: "Situated on Portland Street in the city centre, this building provides a state-of-the-art hub for more than 2,500 students and staff from Leeds Beckett University’s departments of film, music, performing arts and creative technologies. The building’s mix of interconnected spaces is designed to encourage collaboration and showcase the talents of all those who use it."

WOW Barn: Leeds2023 and The WOW Foundation 

The project was described as: "The WOW Barn is an accessible, inclusive pop-up space that was built by 300 women, girls and non-binary people over the course of just 24 hours at Cinder Moor, Woodhouse earlier this year as part of the LEEDS 2023 cultural celebrations. Kirkstall Valley Farm has since been announced as the barn’s long-term home."

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Buildings up to £10 million in value

Maggie’s Yorkshire Centre, St James’s Hospital: Heatherwick Studio 

Maggie's Yorkshire Centre at St James's Hospital. Picture by Hufton CrowMaggie's Yorkshire Centre at St James's Hospital. Picture by Hufton Crow
Maggie's Yorkshire Centre at St James's Hospital. Picture by Hufton Crow

The building was described as: "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."

Young Person’s Space, St Gemma’s Hospice: ArkleBoyce

The building was described as: "Sitting in the gardens of St Gemma’s Hospice in Moortown, the Young People’s Cabin is a sustainable building designed with the needs of bereaved children in mind. The concept for the project included a roof that would not only provide a protective canopy but also reference the surrounding trees and other relaxing greenery."

Newlyn Building, University of Leeds: DLA Arch

The building was described as: "A teaching hub for the Leeds University Business School, this two and three-storey building sits in the heart of Little Woodhouse. Its design draws on the surrounding Victorian context, with external elevations constructed in complementary brick and supplemented by timber cladding. The building has a light and airy feel inside, thanks in part to its dual aspect larger teaching rooms."

Buildings more than £10 million in value

11 & 12 Wellington Place: tpbennett

The building was described as: "Hailed as the UK’s most sustainable office buildings, 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."

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Sir William Henry Bragg Building, University of Leeds: ADP Architecture 

The building was described as: "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."

Globe Point: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios  

The building was described as: "This striking ‘flat iron’-style office development sits on Globe Road, at one of the key entrance points to the South Bank’s Temple neighbourhood. Designed to provide next generation workspace for more than 400 people, the building makes maximum use of natural daylight while also offering spectacular views across the city from its roof gardens."

Altered buildings

The Majestic: DLA Architecture 

The building was described as: "One of Leeds city centre’s best-known buildings, this Grade II-listed former cinema and nightclub has been transformed into a stylish mix of offices and other workspace. The reinvention of the City Square landmark – now home to Channel 4 – preserved and enhanced its existing external fabric while also drawing inspiration from the grandeur of the original interior."

First White Cloth Hall: Buttress Architects 

The building was described as: "This project on Kirkgate in the city centre has breathed fresh life into one of Leeds’s most historic buildings. The former cloth trading hall spent many years in a state of disrepair but has now been brought back into use as a co-creation and innovation space, with surviving elements of the original brick and stone walls being conserved and incorporated into its new internal structure."

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Opera North: Music Works: Enjoy Design Limited 

The building was described as: "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."

Public realm and landscape

Leeds Footbridge: Gagarin Studio

The project was described as: "This 50-metre-long bridge straddles the River Aire and connects two different parts of the South Bank’s Climate Innovation District. The bridge’s concertina-style appearance was achieved through the use of steel slats which appear to fold and crank across its length, providing an eye-catching point of sculptural interest for those crossing over or passing below it."

Stourton Park and Ride: Mott MacDonald

The project was described as: "The UK’s first solar-powered park and ride facility, this clean and green site is home to 1,200 vehicle spaces, electric car charging points and a smart energy grid. A solar canopy powers the terminal building, which is served by a fleet of zero-emission electric buses. Extensive landscaping and tree-planting complete the site’s eco-friendly feel."

Playhouse Gardens: re-form landscape architecture limited

The project was described as: "These terraced gardens are a gateway to a part of the city centre that is home to landmarks such as Leeds Playhouse and Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus. Pathways, steps and seating ledges have been created via the high-quality detailing of hard landscape materials, with the space being softened with the incorporation of a number of native and ornamental trees."

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Co-President of Leeds Society of Architects, Luke Sach said: “The Leeds Society of Architects are honoured to be involved with this year’s Leeds Architecture Awards, helping to celebrate the very best projects, which over the last few years have positively contributed to Leeds’ ever evolving architectural landscape. 

“Thank you to everyone who submitted entries, we’re thrilled to have seen such a large number of high-quality applications, covering a diverse range of projects from within the city and beyond. A huge congratulations to all the projects shortlisted and best of luck on 1st November.”

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