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

Breathing new life into a landmark office building in Leeds city centre called for fresh and innovative thinking. We catch up with Luke Brady, Associate Director at DLA Architecture, to find out how he and the team were inspired to reimagine the interior of 12 King Street for 21st century occupiers.

Where did you start with the design?

Because DLA worked on the original building design at 12 King Street and on the former Majestic building, which is next door to 12 King Street and is now the new Channel 4 HQ – we had a good feel for the building, its context and the wider area. The fact the building is in a conservation area was key to the design brief response.

What is your design philosophy?

A focus on sustainability helped to shape the design philosophy at DLA. My own personal ethos is looking at how design can make people’s lives easier – how good design can both enhance the wellbeing of its occupiers but also reduce the capital expenditure post-construction and provide a more efficient building to run saving costs on lighting, heating and cooling, making the building more affordable to run in the longer term.

How has the exterior of 12 King Street been updated?

One of the key considerations was the roofscape. Originally it was a large double-storey grey slate pitch roof which was reimagined to provide higher quality office space maximising natural daylight through increased glazing and providing external terraces that were sympathetic to the original building characteristics.

Neighbouring buildings include Bank House, which is an inverted ziggurat-style structure of in-situ reinforced-concrete construction with grey Cornish granite and bronze cladding, so we looked at the materials utilised in the immediate conservation area – red bricks, darker tones and slate – and decided to retain a dark palette within the new frontage. Internally, we continued with the dark tones and specified that the exposed soffits were sprayed black to clearly identify the new interventions to the building fabric.

The exterior façade and the internal design complement one another, so to ensure there was a clear connection in how users experienced the building, DLA provided the designs for the Cat B fit-out (the landlord areas), ground floor reception and seventh floor Sky Lounge.

Elements such as the roof garden are available to all who work within the building not just the primary tenants, bringing a sense of equality and connection to the space. It is a spectacular space, with 360o views over the city, where you can see Clarence Dock, Granary Wharf, and the Yorkshire Evening Post Tower. We know the rooftop terrace and garden will be popular and appreciated by occupiers.

What have you done inside the building?

Opening up the ceilings to increase the perceived floor-to-ceiling height was a key aim for the interior design: there’s no longer a need to hide everything away behind a dropped ceiling and a growing trend over the past few years has been to expose the building’s skeleton so the inner workings can be appreciated. This feature enables the internal height to be maximised.

The theme for the interiors was a Scandi-cool look, but we wanted to maintain a balance to make the place attractive to a wide selection of potential new tenants but in a way that would also allow them to put their own stamp on their space.

It was also important to introduce a design that would stand the test of time and not date. We used a natural colour palette, with lots of planting to bring freshness and vitality to the space. We added in pops of warm colours, such as mustard yellow, to add interest and to make the space feel less industrial. The planting was further extended with design focusses like a green ceiling and the roof garden – these are all features that can together contribute to a healthy work environment that promotes people’s wellbeing.

How has commercial office space changed in the 30 years since 12 King Street was first built?

Internal design has moved from a cellular arrangement to an open plan layout, which is flexible and can be easily reconfigured. Because it was designed during a pandemic, 12 King Street incorporates improved hygiene specifications, superloos with individual wash basins and dryers, as well as physical distancing measures.

With the accelerated rise in hybrid and agile working, when people do come into the office, they want to have the opportunity to come together and work closely in open plan settings but also have the ability to break out and relax in communal areas. The modern office space needs to offer something special to encourage people to want to make the most of their office space.

The reinvigorated 12 King Street has achieved BREEAM Excellent and this, together with the new lease of life that the building has been given, means an exceptional office space for the benefit of occupiers, employees and the business district of Leeds, for generations to come.

If you want your team to be located in one of the best Leeds city centre office spaces, contact the 12 King Street team for more information or to arrange a viewing.