The Victoria Gate Arcade, designed by ACME, won the World Architecture Festival (WAF) Awards 2017 for the category: Shopping - Completed Buildings.
The Victoria Gate Arcade sits adjacent to the magnificent Victoria Quarter, built in 1900 by Frank Matcham. The development of the adjacent Victoria area follows several cancelled schemes for the derelict site to the east of Leeds city centre dating from the 1970s and 1990s.
Our 2011 master-plan for Victoria aims at reinvigorating this part of the city centre with the addition of new retail, leisure, restaurant, hotel and residential uses. It defined Victoria Gate as a key urban block of the first phase, strategically located between the existing Victoria Quarter Arcades and a new John Lewis department Store.
The new arcade building is designed as a two storey, twin arcade with a complex roofscape continuing the grand history of Leeds’ 19th century arcades. A large casino is located above the arcade, partially over-sailing it and creating a four storey civic frontage on Eastgate.
The exterior of the building evolves from the 19th and 20th century language of the surrounding Blomfield and Victorian brick and terracotta buildings, and consists of sculpturally pleated brick elevations, changing in rhythm and scale to respond to the context.
Horizontal composition prevails in line with the context: the concrete ground level accompanies the natural slope, the upper level alternates backwards and forwards to break down the visual masses. The chamfer and the off-set of the bricks create depth to enrich the perception of the whole. The three-dimensional texture of the brickwork, and how we could form pleats and steps, was an important factor in the decision to form the external façade from brick-faced precast concrete panels. We devised a series of width modules of seven, nine, eleven or thirteen bricks which could be repeated in differing lengths. All the brickwork was pointed off-site and complete panels were lifted into place and restrained back to the steel frame.
The rooflight continues the tradition of sculptural glazed arcade roofs in Leeds. The design of the glazed steel roof structure was optimized for steel section and glass panel sizes, and to eliminate any twisting and warping of glass whilst keeping the panels as large as possible.
The interiors of the Victoria Gate Arcades are inspired by the use of consistent frontages, curved glass and patterned floors in traditional historic arcades. The shopfronts are designed to be as transparent as possible. Flush Glazing which from the sill to the top of the balustrades was helped by the inherent structural stability of the curved glass units -- the glass was designed to be self supporting, taking only restraint from the first floor slab edge.
The internal arcade floor echoes the pattern of Leeds’ woollen herringbone cloth, which established the reputation of the city for centuries. The floor is incredibly economical, utilising just one standard size of stone, and 13 shades of cheap Chinese grey granite to create a dynamic and non repetitive appearance. The arcade floor is sloping at 1:35, and careful detailing has enabled the floor to adjust to thresholds and entranceways without breaks in the pattern.
Pendant lights are an important part of Arcades, and the Victoria pendant was designed based on the rhomboid geometry of the arcade rooflight, and the patterns of the Yorkshire Rose, which becomes visible when inspecting the light from below. The 1.5m tall pendant is decorative and functional, incorporating feature and emergency lighting, cameras, sensors and loudspeakers.
A spiral stair winds its way from ground to third floor, giving access to restrooms, roof-top restaurants and management suite. Stained oak fins form an enveloping wall cladding, carefully set out to achieve continuous flush faces and a consistent rhythm from the ground to the third floor and the light effects of a filtered 21st century grotto.