Leeds is home to an endless stream of fascinating architecture, but which buildings are the most interesting? We’ve rounded up 11 of the finest…
These are the most interesting pieces of architecture in Leeds. We’re talking Victorian factories inspired by ancient Egypt, innovative student flats that will change colour over time and angular structures that were considered futuristic enough to be included in an episode of Doctor Who. You may not even like them all, but they’re definitely interesting, so they’re worthy of the list. Check them out…
Temple Works is a one-of-a-kind. Completed in 1840, the Grade I-listed building was designed by Joseph Bonomi the Younger and takes its architectural inspiration from Ancient Egypt. The smaller building, with its imposing facade, was based on the Temple of Horus at Edfu, and the larger factory, once the biggest single room in the world, was inspired by the Typhonium at Dendera. It played a major role in the industrial revolution in Leeds, and although it stands empty now, it has new owners, so hopefully, it won’t be long before it’s back in use.
Temple Works, Union Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9TH.
The Laidlaw Library
It’s not just old buildings that have made this list – The Laidlaw Library deserves a mention too. The University of Leeds library was only completed in 2015 and is contained within a hugely impressive shell, built with a combination of sharp, geometric concrete blocks, which are brightened up using floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s won awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects, and because it’s nestled between two old-world churches, it really stands out from the crowd.
The Laidlaw Library, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
The Corn Exchange is, without a doubt, one of the finest buildings in Leeds. It dates back to 1864 and was designed by renowned architect Cuthbert Brodrick. With a huge domed roof and intricate Italian-style masonry, you can’t miss it, but the best is yet to come. Step inside and you’ll be met with a vast space – it’s 26.2 metres from the basement to the roof, which is the highlight of the iconic structure. Look up and you’ll see a steel lattice and timber crosshatch pattern with two massive roof lights that were designed to shed light on the goods on sale below.
Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BR.
Central Square is a bold modern structure by DLA Architecture. From the front, you’d think it was just another office block, but head round to the side and you’ll soon see that isn’t the case. The traditional cladding gives way to a modern glass-fronted building with an imposing glass atrium. It starts from the 8th storey and slopes all the way down to the main entrance – inside, a 43ft Vierendeel steel structure holds it in place and they’ve decked it out in colour-changing LED cables so it looks different wherever you’re stood.
Central Square, 29 Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4DL.
Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Town Hall is an architectural treasure. Another designed by Cuthbert Brodrick, it was the tallest building in the city when it opened in 1858. Since then, it’s been eclipsed by a host of skyscrapers, but its majesty remains. The 10-column colonnade, flanked by four Portland stone lions, immediately catches the eye, but be sure to look up. It has an incredible 225-feet clock tower, crowned with a concave lead-covered dome and an intricate cupola. Heck, even the ventilation shafts have been disguised as ornaments.
Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AD.
Designed by leading architect Ken Appleby in 1971, Bank House is a brutalist beauty that will split opinion – but that’s what makes it so interesting. It combines Cornish granite and bronze cladding to create an imposing building that almost defies belief. Each floor protrudes over the top of the one beneath it making this a triumph of structural engineering. It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but even English Heritage agree it’s a building of note, which is why it’s now Grade II-listed.
Bank House, 27 King Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HL.
Leeds General Infirmary
The original Leeds General Infirmary complex is a stunning example of Victorian architecture – and it definitely deserves a place on this list. It was completed in 1868 by Sir Gilbert Scott and boasts a lively Venetian Gothic-style facade. The devil is in the detail here – from the shape of the building, which juts out in surprising directions, to the arched windows, decorative brickwork and stone pinnacles, it’s an incredibly ornate building and not at all what you’d expect from your local hospital.
Leeds General Infirmary, Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3EX.
Broadcasting Place is a bit like Marmite. It’s a brash complex of angular buildings designed by Fielden Clegg Bradley and it makes use of weathering Corten steel, a metal that rusts over time, so the colour of the building is constantly changing. Coupled with its Jenga-like structure and towering height of 70 metres, it’s quickly become one of the most prominent, skyline-dominating buildings in Leeds. It was even crowned the Best Tall Building in the World in 2010 – would you agree?
Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9PD.
Roger Stevens Building
The Roger Stevens is such a futuristic building, that it was even used as a backdrop for a Doctor Who episode. It’s a post-modern masterpiece completed at the height of the movement’s popularity by pioneering architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The concrete tubes that run down the building and make it unique are actually ventilation pipes for the building – everything has a purpose here, from the multi-level walkways to the internal design. The building also helped to inspire CPB’s masterpiece, the Barbican in London.
Roger Stevens Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
Victoria Gate isn’t just a shopping centre, it’s a landmark building with a unique design. The John Lewis store has an intricate crisscrossed pattern that gives a nod to the city’s textile heritage, while the arcade itself is adorned with an intricate pattern of 360,000 individual drawn and located bricks. Even the car park stands out with 228 twisted metal panels hiding the cars within. Inside, it’s a modern take on the city’s iconic shopping arcades, with distinctively curved shopfronts leading the eye up to a statement roof made with 1,030 diamond-shaped panels.
Victoria Gate, 3 Harewood Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7JA.
St Paul’s House
St Paul’s House is a one-off. The Grade II-listed building was built in Hispano-Moorish style in 1878 by Thomas Ambler and it’s become the focal point of Park Square. This is an incredibly intricate building – it uses Burmantofts bricks, coupled with Daulton’s incredibly ornate terracotta around the windows and rooftop. On the top floor and the roof, the windows are adorned with Moorish arches, but the real highlight is the minarets. They’re usually only seen on mosques in the UK, but here they give us a taste of Ambler’s main influence – The Alhambra Palace in Spain. Fun fact for you – these minarets are actually fibreglass copies as the originals are safely stored at Leeds Discovery Centre.
St Paul’s House, 23 Park Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ND.