Leeds College of Music is the largest conservatoire outside of London. The College wanted to create an inspiring welcome to all visitors and customers to one of the city’s most important concert venues. The 350 capacity auditorium is located above the BBC in an adjacent building to the main college and accessed via a bridge link. The design competition, sought ideas to improve the visitor experience by providing new foyer facilities, to accommodate the venue’s audience as well as extend the college’s out-reach programme with conferencing and teaching space. The new space needed to meet the requirements of multiple and diverse audiences.
The design proposal consists of a full rooftop extension and refurbishment of the third floor to extend the existing foyer facilities for ‘The Venue’. The rooftop extension creates a single large space which can be subdivided into three flexible spaces for conference and teaching activities. The attic lounge is fully glazed to maximise the views across the city. A full height theatrical curtain provides informal control of space, light and acoustics internally whilst external brise soleil reduce the solar gain by seventy percent.
To maximise the space and work within the constraints of the existing building, the new steel structure spans from an internal shear wall to the existing concrete perimeter ring beam. The columns, glazing module and external brise soleil are carefully coordinated to not impede the views out or close down the rooftop space. The design intent was to celebrate being on the roof, for the space to feel like a destination within the city. The new space adds a full storey onto the existing building, the design didn’t shy away from this key planning consideration and maximised the opportunity.
The project was delivered at height and during term time, working with the college and BBC to avoid sensitive periods. This was a complicated and delicate build.