Virtual tour shows full extent of Leeds Beckett University’s new £80m high performance Leeds School of Arts building

The full extent of Leeds Beckett University’s (LBU) new £80m Leeds School of Arts building can now be seen in full for the very first time.

The high spec, specialist facility which is understood to be the only one of its kind, was designed by the internationally renowned architectural practice Hawkins\Brown. It was constructed by development partner Downing and handed over to the university last month.

The building is now being used for the very first time by music and sound, film, and performing arts students, subject to the latest government Covid-19 safety guidance.

New arts building virtual tour

Despite the current restrictions every inch of the building can be seen right now thanks to the hi-tech, virtual tour which has just been released online.

The interactive 3D model of the flagship building is among the largest of its kind ever commissioned worldwide and allows viewers to fully explore all 11 storeys from a pc or mobile device.

The state-of-the-art building, which is located at City campus helps cement the university’s presence in the heart of Leeds and will be the new home for many of creative arts subjects. It is packed full of industry standard kit for the students to work with. Facilities include a professional standard recording studio, 180-seat performance theatre, a 220-seat (Dolby Atmos TBC) movie cinema, as dedicated TV, film and black box studios. There are also multiple editing suites, rehearsal and make-up rooms, and performance spaces.

This huge level of investment is a proud expression of just how much arts and culture matter to both the university and the wider Leeds city region. The building will help improve and elevate arts education for future students but also secure the future of the arts in Leeds as it will act as a hub for cultural and industry partnerships across the city.

The building exterior complements existing listed Portland Stone buildings in the Civic Quarter while providing modern open-plan learning spaces.  There are also two cool roof terraces with panoramic views across Leeds City Centre which offer versatile and unique spaces to host events and showcase everything from end-of-year shows to departmental performances.

Students studying music, film, dance, creative media technology, performing arts, and fashion marketing will be able to learn and collaborate in innovative spaces, while the new building will continue to draw on the university’s heritage for diverse learning opportunities.

Staff from the Leeds School of Arts predict that the building will fast become an integral part of the growing arts scene in Leeds.

“Our new building is equipped with cutting-edge technology which opens up creative opportunities for our School. Extraordinary creative practice will be incubated in our new building and we look forward to sharing it with our local community and our region. With the most up-to-date digital technologies, we are ready to demonstrate and celebrate the importance of arts practice in an uncertain world.”

Professor Lisa Stansbie

Dean of Leeds School of Arts at LBU

Downing Group started planning the development with the university in 2015. George Downing Construction Limited started work on site late 2017 and managed to complete it on schedule despite facing challenges due to the pandemic.

“We have worked closely with Leeds Beckett and our design and supply chain partners throughout, to deliver a project we can all be proud of. Working with Covid-19 restrictions has presented a unique challenge that the wider team, and the GDC site team in particular, have responded to and overcome.

“The volume and variety of spaces brought together under one roof is very impressive and makes this a unique building that further enhances the university’s ability to offer a multitude of creative experiences.

“Downing have relished the opportunity to lead the project through the delivery process from initial briefing to handover and will continue to support Leeds Beckett University as the settle into the building.”

George Tyson

Projects Director for Downing Group

Downing and Leeds Beckett have enjoyed a successful partnership for over a decade. The School of Arts building follows the flagship, multi-award-winning Broadcasting Place development featuring best-in-class student accommodation and teaching space that Downing delivered for Leeds Beckett in 2009.

Award-winning architects Hawkins\Brown designed the building which also includes a green screen studio; a stop motion studio; Foley studios; dubbing and music recording studios; acoustic labs and a host of post-production suites.

“Our approach from the offset has been to create a state-of-the-art facility for the University. The building brings together departments across the creative arts, as well as industry specialists, to create a collaborative learning space which will enhance professional skills of its users. Our big idea for the interior of the building was to think of the whole building as a stage set, with flexible, robust spaces that can be reconfigured and repurposed to suit the changing needs of creatives and performers. We wanted to deliver a building that would give its users the freedom to grow their art in a space that invites imaginative thinking. What we have designed for Leeds Beckett University will be an exemplar of best practice for future university buildings that encourage creativity and facilitate high-performance spaces for learning.”

Christopher Seviour

Associate Director for Hawkins\Brown

Leeds School of Arts, with a history that spans over 170 years is united by a common goal: to encourage individuality, to inspire creativity and to create impact. There are over 3000 students, spread across over 40 courses, in subjects ranging from Architecture and Landscape, Creative Technology, Art and Design, through to Fashion, Film, Music and Performing Arts. We have an exciting and experimental approach to contemporary, creative practice – set in the heart of a culturally energised city.