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Concrete Society Awards

Posted 23/11/2012

MPB Structures was shortlisted again this year for their collaboration with Downing Developements in the construction of Broadcasting Place in Leeds.

Leeds MET University's striking new facility, Broadcasting Place, comprises two key elements; 12,200m2 of CAT A BCO office space spread over two blocks that have been adapted to suit the tenant's requirements to convert it to the universities teaching space for the Arts and Technology faculty and a 23 storey residential tower for students featuring a dramatic, saw-tooth cantilever facade overlooking the city centre.

All of the buildings are clad with Cor-Ten and ribbon glazing over the full height to give a unique facade which adresses the historic buildings adjacent to the developement.

The complex challenges inherent in the sites design and developement included.

  • Considerable underlying mining hazards including a 20m deep mineshaft
  • A site hemmed in on two sides by the cities inner ring road, creating 12m tall retaining walls that required innovative foundation solutions to prevent lateral surcharging.
  • The need for co-ordination with the two bridge abutments when planning the layout of the site to ensure that a safe and economical solution could be delivered.

As the student accomodation is located at the brow of a hill overlooking Leeds city centre, its behavior and response to wind is critical, especially given the severity of the saw-tooth facade which has the capacity to create strong wind eddies. To overcome the significant lateral loadings, and to control accelerations at the top of the building, early engagement with the building services engineer and the bathroom pod manufacturer led to the successful development of a solution that allowed the lateral shear walls to be fully connected. This increased the lateral resistance of the building by 712% reducing the size of the structural walls and significantly reducing the overturning forces at the foundation level which is in close proximity to the ring road retaining wall. The building's concrete frame is exposed, to provide thermal mass to reduce energy consumption due to heating and cooling. Consequently, the quality of the concrete finish is of high significance.

The quality of materials in the floor structure was economised by adopting a post tensioned floor structure and encouraging the careful selection and integration of recycled aggregates and cements. The design minimised the size and depth of foundations by adopting smaller fewer piles and shallow foundations through the reduction of structural mass and increased lateral stiffness of the tower.

This iconic building, with it's unusual angular shape and 'rusty' exterior of naturally corroded steel that captures the essence of Yorkshire's rugged landscape, is a true product of its urban environment connecting new with the old. Described as "humble", "economical" and "environmental", Broadcasting Place greatly impacts the university campus and the skyline of Leeds.

The project combines faculty structure at the tower level in Post Tensioned concrete with a 22 storey tower (student accomodation) completed in traditional reinforced concrete frame. Broadcasting Place has concrete sloping roofs, exposed concrete soffits, and is a unique building combining all aspects of concrete technology to assist in a building of world class architecture.

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