We welcomed a sold out crowd to Number One, Kirkstall Forge last night for our ‘Different by Design’ event series in partnership with Leeds Modernists and Leeds Civic Trust to debate ‘The Leeds Look’.
Head of Sales & Marketing at CEG, Aisling Ramshaw kicked of the event talking about CEG’s long-term commitment to Leeds and thanking those who had attended for purchasing a ticket which raised almost £600 for local charity Kirkstall Art Trail. Peter Cartwright from Cartwright Pickard then opened up the debate with his interpretation of the Leeds Look and commented how important innovative design is for Leeds architecture and urged developers and architects to not be afraid of designing tall buildings. He was followed by Clifford Stead of Leeds Civic Trust who discussed how Leeds tried to modernise in the 1960s with concrete buildings and the ‘walkways in the sky’ that were not thought out and consequently were not pedestrian friendly.
Next up with Rachael Unsworth of Leeds City Walking Tours who emphasised the importance of the performance of buildings and how this could bring about living in healthier times and looked to the potential of the South Bank area of the city. Nicola Walls from Page Park Architects then discussed in detail the extension of the new West Yorkshire Playhouse which intends to open up the arts to the city, both physically and through access. She highlighted how important colour and patterns had been to design the new panels for the extension which will represent each performing art. Martin Farrington of Leeds City Council focused on the heritage of buildings across Leeds and pointed to some of the redevelopment of these including Victoria Gate and Leeds Arena that has taken place and the potential for repurposing other similar buildings once they no longer serve their current purpose.
Following on from Martin was Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ Alex Whitbread who showed he had been a keen enthusiast of Leeds planning for a number of years and talked about the positive changes from developments coming forward in the South Bank area of the city which will stitch the city together, including the inner city suburbs. Finally the last member of the panel was David Hodgson who highlighted the importance of public realm for the Leeds Look of the future, using examples of the Vastint and Kirkstall Forge developments where significant areas of public realm are being implemented for the benefit of those working, living and moving through the area.
One of the key conclusions from the panel debate was that the key to the future of the Leeds Look is to focus on quality not just the style and encourage understanding and commitment from all involved parties. Martin Farrington concluded that the challenge for the city was to maintain a strong economy and work collaboratively with architects and developers.
We’re looking forward to our next ‘Different by Design’ event already – make sure you sign up to our events database to be the first to know about our events!