The University of Leeds was established in 1904 and has since grown to become one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK. As part of a major refurbishment project to support this growth, architectural firm Farrell & Clark was tasked with transforming the site’s original staff centre and external under croft into a new space to accommodate both the School of Earth and Environment and the Priestley International Centre for Climate.
The Grade II listed building is a component part of a masterplan scheme by Chamberlin Powell & Bon, architects of the Barbican in London. To reflect this, the designers wanted to draw on the original heritage features, including the structural tartan grid, the buildings columns and beams. The refurbishment also included the creation of two additional levels of internal space, designed for teaching and working.
A key part of the brief was to respectfully simulate the former terrazzo floor, which reflected the structural tartan grid. To achieve this, DESSO Reveal and Jeans carpet tiles were selected for the flooring in a range of contrasting patterns and colours – from muted blue and grey tones through to vibrant shades of green. This helped to create a harmonious scheme that provides a modern interpretation of the building’s rich heritage. The plank formation and inky blue and grey tones of DESSO Reveal, installed in the open plan areas, mirrors the linear patterns of the surrounding interiors to complement the scheme as a whole. Bursts of green were selected for smaller meeting areas, drawing on the tactility of the tip-sheared carpet structure to create zoning and inject a bold aesthetic.
Inspired by the unmistakable appearance of denim, DESSO Jeans was selected to create a comfortable and informal feel for the main desk areas. The designers opted for a combination of different shades, patterns and structures within the range, which were used alongside each other to create zoning and to respond to changes of height in the open plan space.
Tying back into the renewed purpose of the space – to provide a home for the School of Earth and Environment – are the DESSO carpet tile sustainability credentials. Both the DESSO Reveal and Jeans collections are made from up to 100% recycled ECONYL® yarn and include DESSO EcoBase™ backing as standard, containing upcycled chalk.
Robert Sharples, Architect at Farrell & Clark, said: “What we liked most about the scheme was, firstly, the natural tones of the DESSO flooring, which responded to the core agenda of the university department; earth and environment. And secondly, the consistency of the flooring, which reflected the structural tartan grid – an iconic component of the scheme.”
Project: School of Earth and Environment and the Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds
Location: Leeds, UK
Architect: Farrell & Clark LLP
Square metres: 1,170m2
Product: DESSO® Reveal and DESSO Jeans