Leeds Beckett is building a state of the art space for creative arts students – and there’s no doubt in our minds that it helped swing the tide of Channel 4’s decision.
The creative industries are thriving in Leeds, something that was publicly acknowledged last week when Channel 4 decided to open their new National HQ here, but if you think they’re good now, just imagine how much better they’ll be when Leeds Beckett University opens its new Creative Arts Building. It represents an £80 million investment in the city, and once completed in September 2020, it’ll bring a stream of new talent into Leeds.
“We’ve already got a head start, but it helps put Leeds further on the map for these creative industries,” Trevor Armour, Leeds Beckett’s Director of Estates, told us. “I believe this will be one of, if not the best facility in the UK. It’ll attract the best creative talent to the region and hopefully help develop those links with employers in the creative industries that we want to supply graduates to.”
At the moment, Leeds Beckett’s 1,850 film, TV, fashion and performing arts students are spread across 13 different campus locations, but the new building will allow them to bring all their creative arts subjects under one roof. They’ve built up a significant capital fund in recent years that’s allowed them to fulfil their ambitions with a £200 million investment scheme that includes both the new Creative Arts Building in the city centre and the Carnegie School of Sport in Headingley.
So what can you expect from the new building? Architects Hawkins\Brown have been charged with designing a space that will revolutionise the standard of arts education in the city – and they haven’t disappointed. With 165,000 square metres spread over 9 storeys, it will provide a new home for Leeds Beckett’s Northern Film School, Music, Performing Arts and Fashion departments.
It’s been designed to fit in with its surroundings. The layers of facade stone and bronze-coloured anodised cladding will help it colour match with the nearby listed buildings at City Hall and Portland Way, but the sheer size of the building will make it stand out. Of course, the real magic will happen inside. You’ll be welcomed into a bright airy atrium with a 5-storey light well that runs down through the centre of the building. From here, it leads onto a series of open-plan spaces for social learning, as well as a lounge where students can kick back and relax. There’s a roof terrace planned further up, which will play host to everything from departmental icebreakers to end-of-year showcases.
It certainly looks the part, but facilities themselves are just as important. For film students, there will be three large studios, alongside both a green screen and stop-motion studio. Audio technicians can make use of the sound-effect Foley studio, and there’s even a 220-seat Dolby Atmos cinema to see the results up on the big screen. Meanwhile, TV students will have a triple-height studio for unbeatable staging and a suite of post-production tools.
The music department will benefit just as much. The new Creative Arts Building will have a theatre and black box studio, as well as recording studios and state-of-the-art acoustic labs. They’ve also built fashion studios into the upper floors to make most of the natural light that floods into the building and they’ll have their own dedicated teaching and runway spaces there.
Once complete, it will help to raise the profile of the university and the city itself, but may also have been instrumental in bringing Channel 4 to Leeds. The talent pipeline was high on their agenda, so this investment ticked a lot of boxes. The new Creative Arts Building isn’t even finished yet and it’s already doing great things for the city, so we can’t wait to see what happens when it opens in September 2020.