Monday, 16 July 2012

RIBA Awards 2012 - What the judges said: Saxton, Leeds

Photographer: Joel Fildes
This project takes two derelict housing blocks at the rear of a refurbished city centre council estate and brings them back into use for the benefit of the new residents, the existing residents and the city as a whole. It seemed to the judges to offer a paradigm for regeneration in these straightened times that combines both social and environmental sustainability within a fresh new approach.
Photographer: Joel Fildes

Fed up with the vandalism that dereliction brought to their homes, the social housing tenants next door were the first to embrace the new development which has engaged with them on lots of levels. They have been involved from the initial consultation exercises through to invitations to joint activities such as carol services and barbecues and the use of facilities on the new site which they can share.

The newly refurbished blocks that form the basis of this project contain 50% of affordable homes in the form of one and two bedroom apartments as part of Equity Share and Rent-a-Home schemes. The remainder are for private sale.

The clever approach that the Architects have taken to reordering the derelict bocks has led to an increase in the number of homes on the site from 214 to 410, giving new homes for sale without a loss of affordable housing. Apartments are small, but light and cheerful, many with spectacular views.

Photographer: Joel Fildes
The existing structure, lifts and stairs have been reused, adding to the outside a new steel structure to provide the increased density and allow the building to be clad in a highly insulating but very elegant new skin. Subtle variations in colour choice of this skin and the use of more tactile materials where the facade returns into balconies and entrances gives a low cost cladding material a high quality feel.

The judges were impressed by the way in which the conceptual approach encompassed the whole project with every aspect of social activity and functional response carefully considered. The sloping site was cleverly used to separate out the social heart from the ubiquitous parking areas and to make a communal entrance with a strong relationship back to the city. The individual entrances and semi public elements of the buildings were carefully considered with changes of scale and material making for a simple legibility.
Photographer: Joel Fildes

Great care had been taken to achieve particular character in place making whether in the social heart or in the extensive wider landscaping which forms the largest private garden in the region.

‘An enclave of peace very close to the city centre’ was a comment we heard. This care in design is reinforced by the quality of activity available, with free or subsidised social facilities in the form of gyms, allotments, a  kindergarten, boules, table tennis, picnic areas and follies available to both new and original communities.
Photographer: Joel Fildes


  1. It's really amazing! what a great blog I love it. really great contribution.

    apartments to rent in leeds

  2. Re: Complimentary Invitations for Royal Institute of British Architects.
    Hi Team Royal Institute of British Architects- Thanks for this useful community! I messaged recently about this.
    Heres our new free training course we would like to invite you & your community members to .....
    We want to share useful knowledge in tough times & help grow our industries. We are TrainOK! & we have been organising learning events for 10+ years. Anyone interested is welcome to add their details to the guestlist on our website. Hope thats ok?
    Kind regards, Zori - Organiser TrainOK!