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A Q&A with Luke Brady – Associate, DLA Architecture

What was your brief for 12 King Street?

From our very first discussion with our clients, Andrew Duncan and Ryan Unsworth (Opus North) their aspirations for the scheme were clear – they wanted to offer the highest quality office space in the Leeds market and create a new vision for the scheme that would reinvent the 1980’s cellular office into a series of flexible floor plates to accommodate the changing requirements of the office market. The key criteria of the brief and the specific elements that would be required to deliver this vision were then clearly defined.

One fundamental aspiration of the brief is to target the highest possible building standards including, EPC A rating, BREEAM Excellent and Smart Buildings integration that could provide an intuitive building interface for future occupants and assist them in the day-to-day use of the building, monitor energy usage and providing feedback on smart enabled building systems.

The commitment to install the smart building infrastructure will future-proof the building for many years to come.

At the heart of any workspace is user experience and wellbeing, and to optimise this part of our brief the design maximises natural daylight through exposed structure and building services to increase the floor to ceiling height within workspaces. Through close collaboration with the Structural Engineer, we have been able to maximise the available structural capacity of the existing building to create enlarged floor plates on the upper floors along with taller floor to ceilings heights. The reconfiguration of these spaces provides real flexibility both for the future letting of the building and how users will interact with the space i.e., more light and open aspects enhancing the health and wellbeing of the building users. The value of external space is also a key consideration, and this has been realised through the creation of a panoramic roof top terrace.

Given the city centre location, an early decision was taken to sacrifice a significant number of the existing basement car parking spaces for the benefit of increased cycle parking, embracing the aspirations of the City’s Transport Strategy through the provision of communal cycle spa facilities and targeting a Cycle Score Platinum rating.

As the project progressed, the impact of Covid-19 became all too apparent and further design reviews were undertaken to address how the design could respond to similar future events. As an example, the buildings core WC’s arrangement was completely redesigned to provide individual WC’s throughout in separate enclosures whilst enabling a one-way system to be accommodated from the lift lobbies.

Do you come up with the vision yourself or work with the developer to create the perfect space?

It is definitely a collaborative approach we take with our clients, as it is critical that we take our client on the journey with us so that they are fully engaged and invested in our design solution and thereby enabling the design integrity of the scheme to be maintained through to completion.

From the beginning we worked with Andrew and Ryan, and their commercial property agents, exploring other bench-marking developments in the UK through building visits, concept boards and models produced to communicate the proposals manifesting in a number of design workshops.

It is imperative to us that our design stands up to scrutiny from all stakeholders i.e., our own internal design review, client review with the wider design team, funders, local planning authority etc. and for us, our client and the wider design team play a key role in that.

What makes 12 King Street different to other schemes you’ve designed?

This is the first time we have worked with Opus North to provide office accommodation and it has been an enjoyable process, given our client’s energy and enthusiasm to create a high quality, leading office space in the Leeds market.

As architects of the original building, this makes this particular project quite unique and gives us the opportunity to work with our client to re-imagine the building whilst protecting and celebrating the original architectural proportions and features that were representative of the building styles being designed in Leeds during the 1980s.

The impact of COVID-19 has made this very different from other schemes we have designed, both responding to a challenging situation and designing for a new way of working and will no doubt have lasting impact for all spaces we design moving forward.

Technology and in particular the level of Smart Buildings integration makes this project standout from previous schemes and we are excited to see this in operation and the long term benefits it will bring to building users over the coming years. The ability for post-occupancy feedback via building systems monitoring will help inform the building industries strive towards net zero carbon buildings.

Have you worked on many Leeds-based projects before?

As a practice we have been delivering high quality architecture in the UK for over 40 years now. We have a strong record for both design and delivery and a diverse portfolio of work in the city.

Within the same city block as 12 King Street we have recently finished the Majestic which will provide stunning new offices for the relocation of Channel 4 as its northern HQ. We have also been busy redeveloping Sovereign House in the city as the new home of Leeds Building Society. 12 King Street continues to add to our workplace sector portfolio within the city, which has enabled us to build further on the success of our Central Square project.

Beyond our work within the office sector, we remain busy on-site with other projects such as Oak House Student Residences for Unipol and continued education work on behalf of Leeds University. The continued demand in the education and student sectors will see the redevelopment of our former Leeds Technology Campus site, which we are looking forward to the seeing start on site with new construction in summer this year following completion of the demolition works.

We are excited about the future of the practice and are looking forward to the year ahead as we are developing designs for several large high profile brownfield sites with our highly valued clients.

 

How is the project going so far?

Working with an existing building there are always challenges to overcome when undertaking such invasive works to a structure and as we start to open up areas of the building fabric during the demolition phase of the works, we will no doubt discover technical challenges that we will need to overcome.

Works are progressing well on site with the main contractor, GMI construction ahead of programme. We have a very good working relationship with them, having collaborated on several other projects together and we are keen to see this continue, and ensure we deliver the highest quality product to our clients. As a team we are extremely excited for 2021 and seeing construction works progress at 12 King Street over the next year to the completion of what we are sure will be a stunning new addition to the city.

 

And that’s it

If you’d like to find out more about 12 King Street’s premium offering, get in touch with our agents Knight Frank on 0113 246 1533 or Fox Lloyd Jones on 0113 243 1133. And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter so you can stay up to date on all things 12 King Street and Leeds.