Newlyn Teaching Block

Flexibility for future trends

1565 m²
1565 m²
University of Leeds
Complete July 2019

01 Overview

Developed for the Leeds University Business School and the School of Law, the Newlyn Building is named after respected University of Leeds economist, Professor Walter Newlyn. Comprised of a number of 100 person flexible, accessible rooms and smaller seminar spaces, the building embraces technology and innovation.

Situated within a conservation area and built in amongst existing mature trees, construction utilised off site modules, painstakingly craned into position, delivering the scheme within a tight site boundary and preserving the character of the tree lined street.

02 Context

Located within the heart of Leeds’ Little Woodhouse conservation area, the 2 to 3 storey building draws from the surrounding Victorian context with external elevations constructed in complementary brick supplemented by natural look timber cladding.

The form is conceived as a subtle yet contemporary insertion into the historic landscape of the conservation area. The site and programme constraints led us towards a modular construction method, but it was important that this approach should enable the construction, not dictate the character of the building.

Working closely with the selected contractor we have delivered a building which is cut into the existing slope of the street, with plant and service spaces partially below ground level and low level windows set out to follow the landscape levels once backfilled, maximising natural light into the lower ground floor spaces.

Utilising a brick slip cladding system, matched precisely to the surrounding context and applied to the modules onsite, has enabled us to achieve a consistent finish without obvious joint lines, further enhancing the appearance of a traditional masonry build.

At higher level the choice of timber, the extent of which defines the first floor 100 person teaching rooms, softens the character of the building and allied to a raking parapet outline, breaks up the regular mass of the building into a number of distinct volumes, whilst still maintaining an underlying structural simplicity.

03 Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Working as a collective throughout the design process

To oversee the LUBS projects, a Capital Academic Group was established, bringing together key stakeholders responsible for the Schools Pedagogy, Business Planning, and Facilities Provision. DLA represented the design team alongside Project Management personnel from estates as proposals were developed and presented at a fortnightly meeting to this group.

Ensuring the University’s standards were strictly adhered to by a modular contractor was a key requirement already described, and we ensured these were captured through a series of workshops and rigorous design documentation.

04 Sustainability

Creating the right learning environment

Ventilation and cooling are provided locally within each teaching room using a hybrid natural ventilation system which can efficiently heat or cool circulating air using phase changing materials. The numerous intakes and exhausts this approach required are discreetly incorporated into the timber cladding to maintain the desired external aesthetic, employing novel detailing to deliver a contemporary building which remains sensitive to its surroundings whilst achieving industry leading sustainable credentials.

With generous windows shaded by the existing trees, and all larger teaching rooms benefitting from a dual aspect, the finished building enjoys a light airy feel throughout.

05 Narrative

Walter Newlyn

Internally circulation spaces are treated with a graphics scheme which celebrates the life and work of Professor of Economics Walter Newlyn (1915 – 2002), in whose honour the building is named. Designed by DLA working with Newlyn’s former colleagues, across all three storeys panels include artist’s portraits of Professor Newlyn whilst telling the storey of his work and life alongside his wife Doreen, who opened the building at a ceremony in October 2019.

Project team


Building Excellence Awards Best Public Service or Educational Building Highly Commended 2020
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