Broadcasting Place
In Brief

Leeds Beckett University and Downing


Development value:

September 2009

Broadcasting Place is a striking mixed-use development close to Leeds city centre. A public/private partnership for property group Downing and Leeds Beckett University, it provides approximately 110,000 square feet of new offices and teaching spaces, and 240 student residences in a landmark building rising to some 23 storeys. A new Baptist Church completes the scheme. 

Key to the project’s success is the innovative approach we’ve taken in the design of each elevation. Using software we developed specifically for the project, we undertook a meticulous computational analysis of every single section of the façades. The result is a varied appearance that optimises daylight and reduces solar penetration.

Landscapes of Steel
Video Cover Image

Peter Clegg and Alex Whitbread discuss how Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and the rock formations of the Yorkshire Dales inspired the forms and faces of Leeds Beckett University’s Broadcasting Place.

Watch video
The buildings are conceived as solid landscape forms, drawing on Yorkshire's rich geological and sculptural heritage.

The strong roof pitch is reflected in the massing of the buildings, which have sharp triangular corners and angular cantilevered projections. Through this massive form, we visualised the windows as a flow of water cascading down through rocks. To emphasise this concept, we selected cor-ten steel - a solid, sculptural and weathering material – and used it as a rain-screen façade.

The location has important cultural connections, which have been referenced in the design. The main elevation has 16 windows, mirroring the 16 frames that still exist of the world’s first ever moving images. 

Narrow Module Image

The site posed some difficult challenges, which we responded to with a masterplan that manages an adjacent inner-city motorway, while still allowing for future growth. A new public space forms a significant landscape element of the scheme, as befits its prime location.

The building marks the location of the old BBC TV Studios and the place where the first moving picture was developed by Louis Le Prince in the late 19th century. This makes it a very apt stage for a building now dedicated to Leeds Beckett's Faculty of Arts and Society. 

Narrow Module Image
Quote Image
"Bold and beautiful, the building has made a big and positive impact on this area of central Leeds."
Paul Houghton Development Director, Downing
"Broadcasting Place has already been described as the most notable addition to the Leeds skyline in decades"
Professor Chris Bailey Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Society
Design Approach
"We developed our own software to make the project a success."

A key element in the design of the buildings is the irregular elevations, devised to optimise daylight and reduce solar penetration. Our on-site team undertook an innovative analysis of the façades to calculate the optimum quantity and distribution of glazing/shading at all points. This ensured high levels of natural daylight – minus the overheating. The research study was published in the Architects’ Journal and in “Spacecraft” by David Littlefield, published by RIBA Enterprises.

Narrow Module Image

Plan forms are designed to optimize natural daylight and allow natural ventilation where practicable, given proximity to the motorway that runs alongside site.

We combined façade design to optimize cooling load and energy use through a detailed research project involving 3D computer simulation of all external elevations.

Corten steel was chosen as a low-maintenance and striking façade material for the building. 

Overall, the scheme is highly adaptable to ensure a long lifespan and has been awarded a BREEAM “Very Good” rating. 

Narrow Module Image
Quote Image
"What isn't so immediately obvious is the innovation and research that went into its environmental strategy and the benefits this will bring over the coming years."
Paul Houghton Development Director, Downing
Quote Image

2019 CTBUH 10 Year Award - Award of Excellence
CTBUH Best Tall Buildings Awards - Best Tall Building Overall
2010 CTBUH Best Tall Buildings Awards - Best Tall Building in Europe
2010 RIBA Yorkshire Regional Awards - Shortlisted
2010 BCI Awards - Building Project - Shortlisted
2010 LEAF Emirates Awards - Best Mixed Use Building Award
2010 RIBA Award
2010 Yorkshire Property Awards - Best Commercial Development
2009 Leeds Architecture Awards - Best New Building

Narrow Module Image

Main Contractor:
George Downing Construction
Cost consultant:
Ridge and Partners LLP
Structural Engineer:
Halcrow Yolles
M&E Engineer:
KGA Trinity Chamber
Landscape Designer:
Luszczak Associates
Planning Consultant:
Matthew & Goodman
Landscape Architect:
Robert Myers Associates
Services Engineer:
KGA Trinity Chamber
Facade Consultant:
Montresor Partnership
Will Pryce, Sapa, Simon Kirwan

Narrow Module Image
Explore more Higher Education projects:
Explore more Residential projects:
Explore more Masterplanning & Placemaking projects: