First Direct Arena

Structural Designer


Client Name

Leeds City Council


Leeds, United Kingdom


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 comment:

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.