Performing Arts Centre

Client Grammar School at Leeds
Date 2021
Location Leeds
Value Undisclosed

The Grammar School at Leeds is one of the leading independent schools in the North of England, formed by the merger of Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls High School and the subsequent expansion of the Alwoody site in 2008. As part of the expansion, a theatre was planned but never constructed.

Designs for the new Performing Arts Centre include the extension of the existing studio to include a 400 seat auditorium with retractable seating to the front rows, providing a versatile space. The concept design explores a variety of internal finishes and arrangements including a timber lining that sits above a robust plinth of masonry to the main auditorium and studio theatre spaces. The timber lining provides natural warmth and rhythm to the space, breaking down the scale of the wall and directing public view towards the stage.

The interior layout of the proposed Performing Arts Centre aims to provide integration between spaces. The main auditorium links through to a new studio theatre providing an interconnected space with the flexibility for this to be used as an enlarged backstage area or single open space for hosting other school events. The extension also incorporates ancillary accommodation including, storage, changing rooms and full backstage facilities, enabling students to experience all aspects of staging a production.

A 1:200 physical model of the site illustrates the surrounding context and tests the massing of the Performing Arts Centre. The main form of the building follows the existing theatre building: a simple rectangular form with a pitched roof that mimics the established rhythm of the adjacent buildings, with a brick base and gridded appearance of cladding above. While planning requirements have determined that the rear fa├žade must mimic the surrounding buildings, the cladding to the new studio theatre will be infilled with translucent panels to allow rehearsals to take place under a natural diffused light.