Winner 2013

Award for
Sports or Leisure Structures

Project Description

The First Direct Arena is a landmark music venue in the heart of Leeds city-centre with a capacity of 13,500. Its unique fan-shaped seating bowl, strongly influenced by the sloping site, is key in achieving the required capacity within the limited space. The proximity of student residential accommodation made acoustics a key driver for the engineering design, whilst a striking appearance is necessary in making the arena the intended catalyst for economic growth. The arena achieves a BREEAM score of 61%; the highest of any arena in the UK to date.

Judge’s comments

The design is tailored beautifully to the sloping site through its fan shape and is visually stunning as a result.  The roof solution in particular, with main trusses located in the air gap, is a highly-effective innovation that both reduces cost and increases acoustic insulation. 

Project overview

Structural Designer

  • Arup

Client Name

  • Leeds City Council


  • Leeds, United Kingdom

Year Submitted

  • 2013

Submitted By

  • Arup