(Photo Credit: Duncan Lomax of Ravage Productions)

DLA Architecture has completed the transformation of Majestic Leeds, one of the city’s most iconic buildings which is set to become the new home of Channel 4 this year.

Developer, Rushbond entrusted DLA as lead architect to bring the former cinema back to life and the result is a stunning 66,000 sq ft state of the art business hub with supporting leisure facilities.

Located prominently in City Square and directly opposite the city’s main train station entrance, The Majestic was originally built in 1921 as a super cinema and later became a bingo hall and nightclub.

Through close collaboration between the developer, city planners and Historic England, the Grade II listed building was consented for comprehensive redevelopment including the full restoration of the exterior, with sensitive interventions, and the creation of a new entrance atrium and Palm Court  – a five storey, circular atrium topped with a glazed dome marking the re-interpretation of the historic access arrangement of the original cinema.

Because of its detailed knowledge of the Leeds landscape and expertise in repurposing heritage buildings, DLA Architecture was appointed to work alongside contractor Sir Robert McAlpine to deliver the transformation.

Mark Redfern, Head of Design at DLA Architecture, said, “The Majestic gave us a unique opportunity to evolve a new build intervention within this beautiful existing fabric, creating a new chapter in the building’s history and transforming how a new generation of users can experience it. From the outset the design approach sought to complement, rather than compete and integral to this was the notion of re-interpretation – to pay homage to the building’s past whilst looking forward to its future.”

DLA set out to preserve and enhance the existing eternal fabric whilst inserting a new 66,000 sq ft exemplary Grade A workspace across the seven floors. The external aesthetic uses the existing building façade as a recognisable solid plinth from which a more delicate and contemporary structure can emerge, designed to mediate between the Majestic and its neighbouring buildings.

Reflecting the grandeur of the original interior, its elegance and style has been captured in various moments encountered throughout the new design. To retain a sense of the drama, scale and volume of the original cinematic spaces when walking into the building visitors immediately enter a grand triple height foyer. The backdrop to this space is a re-interpretation of the cinema’s historic Proscenium Arch which frames the office spaces beyond and provides subtle homage to the silver screen as an animated backdrop to the foyer.

Like the original design the building has a number of hidden gems for its occupants to discover, such as the grand Palm Court to the rear of the building which is a five storey, circular atrium topped with a glazed dome; a re-interpretation of the historic access arrangement of the original cinema.

The building also benefits from a variety of outdoor terrace spaces perfectly suited to modern, healthy ways of working.

DLA’s approach to the environmental upgrade of the building was a project driver from inception to completion. The building now delivers comparable levels of energy efficiency and occupant comfort to best practice new build office construction. A whole building approach was applied, focussing on areas of the design less constrained by the historic building. These include improving controls, using very efficient MEP systems and working the new elements of the construction as hard as economically feasible.

Mark Redfern continues, “With such a deep plan building the design of daylighting, artificial lighting and lighting control were key with Palm Court introducing daylight to the centre of the building to reduce the demand for artificial lighting. The design of highly efficient artificial LED lighting then contributes significantly at lower levels.”

The building achieved an EPC A rating with an estimated 12.42kg CO2/m2. It exceeds building regulations compliance requirements by 25% which is an outstanding achievement for an historic building with a retained listed façade and constrained footprint.

The Majestic will become the new Headquarters for Channel 4 later this year with terms agreed to take three floors, and national law firm Knights Plc has also agreed a lease to take two floors.

DLA Architecture is an award-winning practice which employs over 75 architects, landscape architects, technologists and graphic designers.  Established over 40 years ago the practice has offices in Leeds, Manchester and London.  Its expertise covers a broad range of sector including learning, sport, industry, care, workplace, housing, retail, conservation and re-use.


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