Print Hall 1B
Leeds City College Printworks


Located within the emerging South Bank of Leeds City Centre, Leeds City College’s Print Hall 1B provides a unique learning environment for its students and is set against the backdrop of the Grade II listed former Alf Cooke Printworks.

The historic significance of the Print Hall needed to be protected and its long term future needed to be preserved, with new life breathed into the building while unlocking its potential.

A sensitive yet robust scheme needed to be delivered, developed to the constraints and opportunities offered by an existing listed building, while also meeting the requirements of a leading education provider.

The Print Hall is used by multiple departments, including the library and learning resource team, hair and beauty, and teaching and administration staff.


In order to understand how the opportunities presented by the refurbishment of the Print Hall could respond to the college’s needs, the design team undertook detailed consultation to develop an in-depth brief that reflected the diverse goals and aspirations of each department.

This process allowed the team to develop proposals that responded to the existing attributes of the Print Hall, minimising the requirement to modify the environment and limit the intrusive works that may compromise the existing character of the space.

The design team consulted English Heritage, Leeds Civic Trust and the Victorian Society, which led to the retention of key features such as the decorative spiral staircase.

A detailed structural analysis was carried out before the replacement of the north light roof.

Due to the previous use of the site and the chemicals used in the printing process historically, it was established that the building contained a number of harmful contaminants including asbestos and carcinogenic materials.

A full programme of remediation was undertaken whilst the design was developed, which allowed the building to be cleaned to a safe standard, allowing works to commence on site without delays.

The project team also undertook a number of presentations to students on their professions and students studying Cultural Heritage were provided with regular site visits to allow them to witness the repair works and conservation, helping them with their studies.


The redevelopment of the Printworks campus took place with great respect to the historical importance of the setting and the unique attributes of the Print Hall.

This was done through enhancing the existing industrial character of the Print Hall, undertaking the work with a ‘light touch’ approach, ‘adding’ rather than ‘replacing’ where possible.

Retaining the existing sense of space, openness and natural light, which was intrinsic to the Print Hall, was also important, as well as exposing existing surfaces and structure.

With the exception of the North light roof, which needed to be replaced due to its poor condition, the vast majority of the existing historic fabric has been retained. Any elements removed were recent additions and were deemed to be detrimental to the character of the space.

Histo glass, comprising of thin double glazed units with high thermal performance, was also used to retain the existing character and appearance of the windows.

A bespoke secondary balustrade was installed, in keeping with the building, and, where possible, the scheme adopts a natural ventilation strategy to reduce energy demand.


The redevelopment of the Print Hall and the wider Printworks campus has created a key catalyst facilitating the emergence of the South Leeds education quarter.

It is revitalising the local area while making an important contribution to the Leeds education sector which is central to the regional economy.

The Sewell Construction Print Hall team won the Building Conservation category in the prestigious Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards in Harrogate in May 2016.

Just three weeks later, they also won the Committed to Heritage and Refurbishment Award in the Committed to Construction in Humber and West Yorkshire Awards 2016, run by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

The campus also won the Altered Building award at the Leeds Architecture Awards in March 2017.

The historic Print Hall provides character to learning. The contrast of the old and the new provides opportunity for inspiring creativity. Pupil feedback is extremely positive. They enjoy their new surroundings and learning environments and feel inspired by it.

Hazel Gilmartin Head of Hair and Beauty, Leeds City College