Leeds Playhouse

  • © Page\Park Architects
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Jim Stephenson
  • © Page\Park Architects

Application Type

Universal Design

Level of Award

Highly Commended

Region

Yorkshire & Humberside

Local Authority Area

Leeds

Information about this scheme

The Leeds Playhouse is a cultural and community hub serving a broad demographic. As an organisation, they have always had a large outreach programme. Examples include pioneering accessible performances, being the first to introduce Theatre of Sanctuary for refugees and to regularly host Beautiful Octopus inclusive club nights for people with learning disabilities. Access and inclusion are at the very heart of the project, with the redeveloped building supporting the Playhouse’s cultural, engagement and participation activities - whereas previously they happened ‘in spite’ of the building. During the competitive process the architects visited Leeds Playhouse to see a performance which clearly demonstrated the challenges of the existing building. This visit led them to challenge the original feasibility study and suggest a more radical alteration to the existing building to improve access into the main theatre spaces, as opposed to only creating a new entrance extension. This led to one of their major design moves to create a democratic access into the Quarry Theatre by opening the building up at the middle level. Throughout the project they consulted widely to refine the brief; firstly, with staff and then with regular user groups including the youth theatre and participants of the Playhouse’s Hey Days programme for older people. They collaborated with access consultants Jane Toplis Associates and consulted with both the local Leeds Access and Use-Ability Group, LCC’s access officer, and the Playhouse’s own access group to ensure that best practice was adopted. This included presentations and a building visit. The redevelopment has made the building more accessible, welcoming and connected. Inclusive design best practice was adopted for finishes and colour choices. Provision includes a large new lift, special buggy stores and expanded wheelchair capacity in the theatres. Toilet provision is comprehensive, with provision for both gender, non-gender assigned and family friendly facilities (with both full and child size appliances within one room) and maintaining a Changing Places facility. These facilities have subsequently been cited as exemplar. Once the redevelopment was complete access audits were undertaken and some minor modifications made to make the building more user friendly: for example, some additional handrails were added into the Courtyard Theatre stalls.  A “lessons learnt” exercise was completed involving the client team, design team and contractor to benefit future projects.

Credits

Architect

Page\Park Architects

Client

Leeds City Council

Main Contractor

BAM

Owner

Leeds Playhouse

Project Manager

Turner & Townsend

Structural Engineer

Arup

Services Engineer

Max Fordham

Theatre Consultant

Charcoalblue

Landscape Architect

Re-Form

Client Advisor

New Stages Ltd

Project Manager

Rex Procter and Partners

Acoustic Consultant

Sandy Brown

Primary Use Class

Class D2g - Theatre