Sheppard Robson finishes sports school at Leeds Beckett University


The 8.300m2 The Headingley Campus Complex at Leeds Beckett University brings together the specialized teaching and research facilities of the Carnegie School of Sport, previously scattered across five buildings. While creating a major new sports center for the university, it can also be used for community initiatives and by professional sports clubs, such as Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos.

The most obvious exterior feature of the building is a partially cantilevered 60m long running track, which sits on the second floor and is covered in bright red anodized panels. Designed with sections of muscle, it is designed to be an eye-catching and unifying marker of the new school of sports.

The track geometrically cuts through the building from the entrance to the original outdoor running track and sits on a central atrium. This atrium features double-height glazing providing a long view of the outdoor athletic track and intended to visually link indoor and outdoor sporting activities.

The atrium joins the two wings of the building, which unfold under the athletics track and contain both technical installations and more informal spaces for meeting and collaboration. In particular, the North Block contains spaces for elite athletic research, while the South Block houses strength training and conditioning facilities and general education areas.

Additional features include two environmental chambers that can mimic different altitude, atmospheric, and environmental conditions, as well as multi-purpose sports therapy rooms.

On the roof there is a walking path and a landscaped terrace, while intuitive guidance is used to promote the use of stairs throughout the building, which is BREEAM Excellent and EPC A rated.

Architect’s view

The building successfully brings together rigorous and carefully controlled facilities side by side with more relaxed spaces for informal meeting and working. We wanted the architectural form to project these complex internal workings and the ambition of the building, with the shrill racetrack on the roof a clear marker of the university’s ambition.

Externally, the fenestration design took influence from neighboring Neo-Georgian buildings with horizontal stripes, hinged corners and a central emphasis to express the entrances. Concave aluminum envelops the building and gives variation throughout the exteriors. At the openings, the outer skin is cut to “peel” the materials used and reveal the internal spaces. The vertical linear openings in the facade are also positioned to maximize daylight in internal spaces, functioning as a passive sustainable design feature.

The design takes clues from biology, with internal spaces hinting at dissection, with walls “cut out” to reveal color in selected locations, while larger items are hung to sit in the atrium . The 60m long race track is visibly marked from the internal atrium, cast in red anodized aluminum. The cantilevered track runs through the building and is extruded to draw attention to the finish line and maintain the view of the outer track.

The first floor includes an informal teaching platform parallel to the track above, culminating in an outdoor terrace that appears to protrude from the outer ‘skin’ of the building. Internally, research labs follow a crisp, crisp palette, with furniture and flooring adding subtle color throughout. Additionally, the exterior red hues of the siding reflect the natural red light in the interiors as daylight levels change, adding subtle variation throughout the day.

On the roof, a landscaped terrace and a walking track are available to staff and students, where access to seats, electricity and Wi-Fi allows interactions to take place outdoors, while by promoting biodiversity. The building classified BREEAM Excellent and EPC A also specified healthy materials, with a construction fabric selected from among the Green Specification Guide and specified A + rated products.

The occupants of the building are active by the nature of their academic field. To promote this, the building is designed with an intuitive orientation to promote the use of stairs, coupled with a selection of furniture to promote active lifestyles, including bicycle seats, upgraded base seats and active games in the atrium. The building’s final accommodation also includes elements of community outreach through partnerships with local sports organizations, local health providers and the NHS, to help the local community promote active lifestyles.

Alex Solk, partner, Sheppard Robson

Customer view

This exceptional new facility helps ensure that our university continues to attract the most talented students and staff to further enhance our reputation for cutting-edge research in the field of sport.

Peter Mackreth, Dean, The Carnegie School of Sport

Project data

Start on the spot August 2016
Completion date May 2020
Gross interior floor area 8,300 m2
Form of contract or procurement route NEC D&B
Construction cost £ 30.4million (estimate)
Construction cost per m2£ 3,660
Architect Sheppard robson
Customer University of Leeds Becket
Structural engineer Curtins Consulting Engineers
M&E Consultant CAD21
Quantity surveyor Sum
Landscape architect Gillespies
Acoustic engineer WSP Group
Project Manager Gardiner & Théobald
MDP coordinator Security Adcaster
Certified building inspector Leeds City Council
Main contractor Try Galliford
CAD software used Revit

Environmental performance data

On-site energy production 6.76 wh / m2/year
Watertightness at 50pa 3m3/ hm2
Heating load 13.19 kWh / m2/year
Hot water charge 14.18 kWh / m2/year
Global u value weighted by zone 0.27w / m2k
Conception of life 60 years
Annual CO2 emissions 19.3 KgCO2eq / m2 (real)


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