'Freakish' Leeds tower slips into bracket of top four in world for 2010

A building in Leeds less than 70m tall and made of deliberately rusted steel has just been bracketed with three megastructures as one of the four best towers erected in 2010 in the world.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) decided that this architecturally eccentric David, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, was more than equal to the Goliaths produced by practices including Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which employs more than 1,000 people across several continents.

There's more to this unexpected accolade for Leeds than the cliche "Let's hear it for the little guy".

The Broadcasting Place building is a fine example of how talented, although not world famous, architects can bring something really fresh and engaging to unlikely pockets of our towns and cities.

Megalithic towers of power are de rigueur in the corporatised ghettos of the world's financial centres. But it's when taller buildings are inserted into physically complex settings that much more engrossing and civil architecture can result. The Leeds building is a £50m mixed-use development on the edge of the city centre, created via a partnership between the Downing property group and Leeds Metropolitan University. It contains offices, student residences and a Baptist church.

The other buildings garlanded by the CTBUH are a trio of the massively usual suspects: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which, at 828m, is more than 11 times higher than Broadcasting Place; the 163m Pinnacle@Duxton in Singapore and the 366m Bank of America tower in New York. They are all tall, they are all structural marvels and they are all, with the possible exception of the unusually articulated Burj, oddly lumpen.

Such is the self-inflicted curse of skyscrapers, although not all. Towers like the Hancock and Sears buildings in Chicago remain utterly spellbinding decades after reaching for the sky. And when Renzo Piano's Shard and Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partner's Leadenhall Street buildings are completed in London they promise to set new standards in supersized elegance. Which makes Broadcasting Place all the more remarkable.

It rises, in five twisted chunks, from a very tight and irregularly edged site hemmed in by a church and other historic buildings. Furthermore, the architects have made a brusque, almost 1960s Brutalist virtue of the form by cladding it in rust-guaranteed Corten steel.

Feilden Clegg Bradley, whose Cambridge housing scheme won the coveted Riba Stirling Prize two years ago, are masters of subtly modulated forms and materials – and they admit that Broadcasting Place is freakish by their normal standards. But there is logic at work: the tower ruled out the need to clutter the site with three or four separate buildings, and the 16 facets of the facade optimise the amount of natural sunlight let inside and set up particular views across Leeds. But the key point is that the design isn't gratuitously weird. Absolutely no wow-factor was intended, and it adds no spurious gloss to the government's promotion of its misconceived World Class Places programme in our towns and cities.

Championed by English Heritage and Leeds City Council, Broadcasting House was voted the third most popular building in the city within months of its completion. Architecture like this reminds clients and developers that they don't need slapdash architectural drama. They need excellently designed, contextually sensitive buildings. Broadcasting Place has nothing to do with world class places – whatever they are – and everything to do with a pocket of Leeds.

And it is not quite alone in demonstrating the meaningful contribution that towerettes can make to the important shades of architectural difference in our towns and cities.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent