First Direct Arena

Structural Designer


Client Name

Leeds City Council


Leeds, United Kingdom


This project provides a 13,500 capacity arena in the city of Leeds, UK. Through some intelligent remodelling of the traditional arena format the designers create an outstanding arena space on a restricted city centre site. Compressing the footprint to fit the site created some big challenges, including a seating bowl that overhangs the road. The stringent acoustic requirements led to a “box in a box” system including a double layer stepped roof. Sloping the roof parallel with the site kept the internal air volume low and improves the acoustic performance. By all accounts the designers unlocked a difficult city centre site and gave the people of Leeds a new venue to be proud of.

Judge's comment:

The judges were impressed with the thoroughness of design thinking that allowed this difficult site to be exploited in such an effective way. This is a great example of good engineering overcoming multiple challenges arising from this very compact city centre site. This certainly gives the city a real asset for the future.

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