This site was once Leicester’s central bus depot. After its transformation in 2004 into a thriving studio and workspace hub, the letters LCB - once short for Leicester City Buses - came to stand for Leicester Creative Business. A converted building and a new building sit either side of a central courtyard, together accommodating over fifty studios and workspaces, as well as meeting rooms, galleries and a lively café.
The folded street-facing elevation was re-faced with a wrapper of brick that kicks out at each end, as if to say, “Of course, I’m just a skin”. Recalling the industrial use of white-glazed tiles to the backs of buildings, the off-street elevation was treated with white and clear glass, incorporating two commissioned artworks. A main architectural move of the renovation element was to carve a void down through the building, glazed with timber-framed panes, around which the building’s circulation was organised, avoiding dark unnecessary corridors.
2006 RIBA Award
2006 EM Award
A close-up detail of the facade at the entrance to one of the upper apartments. Profiled translucent fibreglass back by silver foil, with strands of electrical cable in the interstices. Chain link fencing surrounds each upper flat's terrace.
Being briefed to produce two-bedroom apartments, each measuring just 67m², precipitated a re-appraisal of the spatial priorities of the traditional small flat, which resulted in an unconventional but extremely workable configuration.
The dwellings are identically arranged around an enlarged hallway where the space is both light and complex - anything but a corridor. It is large enough to hold a desk or daybed, a place to sort laundry or an area for children to play.
Bedrooms are kept as small as possible. Clothes, for example, are stored elsewhere. While the kitchen is the main social space of the flat, the living room is a cosy (with)-drawing room that can also be a home office or guest room.
Bathrooms and WCs are separate. Each is spacious, has a large basin and an opening window.
The plan above was made at competition stage.
The corrugated cladding set against silver foil creates lavender and turquoise reflections. In the corrugation's interstices are suspended twisted strands of black and white electrical cabling, adding to the kinetic parallax illusion created as one passes the buildings - an effect developed by Ash Sakula in collaboration with the artist Vinita Khanna.
A few weeks after the residents moved in we received this painting from the Brewer family. It said, "Thank you for our incredible home." In an accompanying letter the Brewers wrote, "... we have never seen anything better designed for us as a family. Thank you for all your thoughtful hard work."
Animators Wrench & Franks made a short video of the project. Here is a still from the closing sequence.
Architect: Ash Sakula
Client: Leicester City Council (Regeneration & Culture, Cultural Quarter Development, Mike Candler)
Funding: Leicester City Council, Leicestershire Economic Partnership, European Regional Development Fund and East Midland Development Agency
Contractor: Clegg Construction
Project Management: Focus Consultants
Structural Engineer: Diamond Wood Partnership
M+E Engineer: EP Consulting
Sustainability and Environmental Consultant: WSP Group
Cost Consultant: Turner and Townsend