Leeds development forges on with fresh awards

03 February 2021

A ground-breaking mixed use regeneration project in Leeds has had its commitment to design for future living and working recognising with two design awards.

Number One Kirkstall Forge is situated on the oldest continually industrialised site in the UK, in a prime position on the banks of the River Aire at the city outskirts.

The new development sensitively and successfully mixes offices, living and studio spaces with sustainable travel provision and vast green spaces.

With cycle paths a new, dedicated train station and scooter rental service, along with a dedication to mixed use from big business to start-ups and social spaces, the site seems to be setting a standard for the flexible ways we will work and play in the future.

What’s more, the development’s commitment to sustainable and well-being-focussed working and living has earned it a range of building awards, including Grade A, BREEAM Excellent, WiredScore Platinum and EPC A.

Most recently, the project has won the London Design Award 2020 and a BCO Commercial Workplace Award.

The building architecture was designed to link the exterior surroundings to the generous interior planting scheme.

With a strong focus on biophilic design in recognition of the air purifying, wellbeing and pollution reduction power of living plants in indoor spaces, planting can be seen throughout in rich and varied forms.

It is a project Urban Planters’ National and Leeds team were very proud to work on with designers Space Invaders, creating a biophilic environment for the building’s café.

The brief was to create a natural oasis in the middle of the busy café-come-bar using a mixture of carefully chosen planting.

Spot-lit from above, a uniform row of Bucida buceras (Black Olive) trees seem to bask in sunlight, creating the illusion of a slice of the outdoors in the centre of the room.

Installing the trees required careful planning, due both to their size and the frenzied activity going on around the install from other trades, all of whom were working to a tight schedule.

A great deal of thought was also put into the light levels to ensure the trees would continue to thrive.

The Bucida are underplanted with Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ ferns and the adjacent insitu planter is planted with Dracaena serculosa, commonly known as Gold Dust Dracaena, due to the pale coloured spotting on the leaf.

Complementing planting was selected for the meeting room and office, using medium-height plants suited to the light levels.

In the same building, we also provided some purpose-built external planters for intelligent vehicle solutions provider Zenith. Using planters incorporated with seating we used a mixture of planting to blend the foreground with the sweeping green views beyond on their outdoor terrace.

Of course, the bustle of productivity and social interaction that this site was built for has fallen quiet for now, as pandemic restrictions trundle on, but this site has been designed for a future this past year has prompted us to imagine. One where health and wellbeing are put above working hours and draining commutes. Something these awards surely reinforce.

We hope to see life return fully to Kirkstall Forge soon. But until then, the planting life will keep the place feeling vibrant in readiness for everyone’s return.

Click here (London Design) and here (BCO) for more on Kirkstall Forge’s recent awards.