PGR room sign reads PGR Lounge

New postgraduate research student space opens

A new study space and meeting place for University of Leeds postgraduate research students has opened above the Refectory.

The new area, which will be staffed by teams from Leeds University Union, provides a mixture of quiet and communal spaces to suit students working independently and collaboratively and building communities.

The Estates team worked closely with Leeds University Union to make sure that the space met the needs of students.

Project Manager Alicia Graham said:

“This project has delivered on the brief that was set by Leeds University Union to create a space that was both welcoming and versatile for postgraduate students.

“Colleagues from Estates have had regular meetings with members of LUU to ensure that the space was suitable and appropriate for our postgraduate research students.”

It has been redecorated and reconfigured by the Estates team’s interior designers, providing a brighter and more versatile area for students.

Find out more about our ongoing and completed projects.

HELIX Omnideck

HELIX: New space for digital innovation complete

HELIX – a brand new innovative technologies hub to support student education – has been completed.

Working with fit-out specialists Overbury and the University’s Digital Education Service (DES), the Estates team managed the complex build and refurbishment of the space on Level seven of the Grade II-listed E.C Stoner building.


The space includes state-of-the-art equipment such as the only Omnideck in the UK (pictured) and users will have access to immersive technology, prototyping equipment and multimedia studios.

Flexible classroom/Helix

David Oldroyd, Interim Deputy Director of Development, University of Leeds, who oversaw the project said:

“I’m very pleased with the high quality finish of the space. The team have delivered a good quality space in a challenging building within a short space of time.”

Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation & Development said:

“HELIX encourages community and collaboration and is key to the University’s Digital Education Strategy. I look forward to seeing students and staff using it.”

Enterprise area/Helix

When will HELIX officially open?

Over the next few months, the HELIX team will encourage staff to visit the space ahead of the official opening in September 2023. Tours of HELIX will be advertised in due course.

To find out more about the project, please visit the DES webpage.

To get more updates from Estates and Facilities, visit our news section here and follow us on Twitter at @uolcampusdevelopment.

Graphic reading "Delivering Net Zero by 2030"

Maintenance team critical to success of Climate Plan

Senior Maintenance Manager, James Wright, has outlined the critical role of maintenance and operations staff in achieving the goals of the University of Leeds’ Climate Plan.

Increasing biodiversity

In a video encouraging staff to play their part, James discusses partnership with academic colleagues on Gair Wood – new planting across 37 hectares that will increase biodiversity and act as a Living Lab.

James also discusses other initiatives such as the University’s fleet moving to zero emissions.

James Wright, Senior Maintenance Manager, said:

“The University of Leeds estate is around the size of 500 football pitches and is incredibly diverse – from offices and residential buildings to sports grounds and farmland.

“We have a big part to play in helping the University to meet its goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030. We try and lead by example to make sure that we achieve net zero.”

Climate Plan biggest investment ever made

At £174 million, the University of Leeds’ ambitious Climate Plan represents the largest investment it has ever made.

Seven key principles highlight the university’s commitment to net zero emissions, a sustainable curriculum, responsible investment and reorienting postgraduate research and teaching away from the fossil fuel sector.

To find out more about the University of Leeds’ commitments, visit the online hub here. Follow @UoLCampusDevelopment on social media for further updates.

Watch a video of James explaining the role the Estates and Operation

Two individuals participating in virtual reality

HELIX: New space for digital innovation

Over 700 delegates at the Digital Universities UK Conference this week will have the opportunity to preview a cutting-edge new space on campus for digital innovation – HELIX.


The new space, developed by the Facilities Directorate (FD) on behalf of the Digital Education Service (DES) and others across the University, and built by construction company Overbury, will be one of the stops on tour of digital expertise on campus.

Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development said:

“The FD supports the University by creating amazing spaces and experiences on campus that enable students and staff to achieve their potential.

State-of-the-art equipment

With state-of-the-art equipment such as the only Omnideck in the UK, HELIX will facilitate the development, testing and delivery of digital learning assets to support student education.  It further cements the position of the University at the forefront of digital provision.

Users will have access to immersive technology, prototyping equipment, and multimedia production studios. It will encourage community: a core value for the University and the FD – and is a major step in the University’s digital transformation strategy.”

When will it launch?

HELIX is in the final stages of its build and will be open for general use in May.

The Times Higher Education Digital Universities UK Conference is being hosted by the University of Leeds from 17-20 April.

“HELIX is a brilliant example of a collaborative space that will bring together a whole host of people – students, cross-faculty academics and external stakeholders – to create and learn.”

To find out more about the project, please visit the DES webpage. To get more updates from Estates and Facilities, visit our news section here.

Find out more about the opening by following @UoLCampusDevelopment 

Lecture room in Esther Simpson Building

Estates team collaborate for teaching innovation

Michael Hern, Teaching Space Support Team Leader explores the teaching spaces at the University of Leeds using the feedback from students and academic to reshape learning spaces into modernised environments.

Exciting new teaching spaces across campus have been shaped by feedback from students and staff says Michael Hern.

Over 15 years Michael has seen our 400 teaching spaces transform from ‘chalk and talk’ to innovations such as microphone-enabled tracking cameras used during teaching sessions in the Esther Simpson Building, as he explains in the following video:


Michael Hern, Teaching Space Support Team Leader said:

“Using technology and great design is important for many reasons. For one, it means that academics don’t have to turn their backs on students while they teach to write on a board.”

Research shows that this kind of innovation enhances the student learning experience.

Also in Roger Stevens, spaces were designed with walkways so that teaching staff can interact with students rather than ‘delivering’ material from the front. 

Digital transformation is at the heart of the University’s strategy and the Estates and Facilities team in the University’s Facilities Directorate deliver projects across campus with this at their heart.  

“Stemming away from the traditional practices has enabled positive change. The latest ideas and feedback have contributed to creating a community and bringing people together.”

This is certainly true of the new lecture theatres at Roger Stevens where small details make a big difference. Students said they wanted more space to store bags and coats and that wellbeing was important. This has resulted in imaginative storage facilities and a green wall. 

“The work is challenging but very rewarding. I’m very proud.”

Find out more about teaching spaces by following @UoLCampusDevelopment 

Margarita, Interior Architect sitting in Esther Simpson building

Ten minutes with Margarita Bosnjak, Interior Architect

Find out how Margarita balances the needs of our diverse university community by creating amazing places and spaces for all.

What is your role and what do you do?

I am an interiors architect and workplace strategist with the Facilities Directorate.

It’s my job to create environments that best serve the needs of its users. I’m developing a broad strategy to embrace current global trends for workplaces. The past few years have significantly impacted what we need from a physical workplace.

What projects are you working on?

They vary in scale but are all focused on using space in a more sustainable way in every sense: carbon targets, mental health, financial implications, long-term growth projections, etc. 

Working with external consultants I’m developing a design concept for the Digital Learning Accelerator in E.C Stoner, a new build to help the University further develop as digital innovators.

I hope our ideas will balance out the requirements of multiple types of end users, different age groups and the newest technology. My role is to soften the industrial fabric of the layout and help specify the finishes that will inspire and improve the performance of both the staff and students.

What is your favourite thing about your role?

I can use my versatile experience to create environments that will serve students, help staff and as a result support the University’s Strategic Plan. I work with fantastic team leaders –  David Oldroyd and Ed Batty – whose open minds and positive vision ensure that we are embracing the future.

What aspects of the work that you do do you think are the most important to people?

I heard someone say “God is in the detail, so is the devil”. And I live and work by it. A glass table top can cause harm because of its low visibility, or a metal arm rest can make the chair uncomfortable. Poor choices can result in time and money wasted, and more stress added to the workload, especially on large scale projects.

How can we make spaces better suited to people’s needs?

We all need to work together and create a feeling of community, because supportive environments can lift up any mood and reduce anxiety. We have to share our spaces and use solutions that allow us to collaborate more and isolate less, and include people with all sorts of different needs.

Can you tell us about a favourite project?

I am fortunate to have my passion as my career, and have the luxury of working on projects that I enjoy, so it’s difficult to give one example. I’ve recently started planning design strategies for various spaces in the libraries with Facilities & Space Manager Stephen Day, which is exciting.

Collaboration with people who share the vision of progress is always rewarding and we both understand that investment works better in the long term than spending!

Find out more about Margarita’s upcoming projects by following @UoLCampusDevelopment

Cleaning services training development day

Cleaning team focus on collaboration

Team leaders from Cleaning Services took part in a development day on Tuesday, working with colleagues across the University.

The theme for the day was working together as one team and how collaboration brings positive impact for all involved.

Jill Roberts, Head of Cleaning Services said: 

“It’s so important to invest in personal and professional development, and while it is always difficult to find the time, it was obvious how much everyone got from the day.”

“Collaboration is a University Value and reflects the direction of the Facilities Directorate as a whole, which we are proud to be a part of.”

“Thank you to colleagues from the Staff Counselling Service, Health & Wellbeing, Security and OD&PL who joined us.”

The Cleaning team are integral to the running of the University and Jill has recently received a large number of appreciative emails from across campus. These included:

“I just had to write this morning to let you know how blown away we are with the cleaners here in Maths, who always go above and beyond what is expected. They are extremely friendly and continuously do an amazing job!”

And from Psychology:

“They were professional, cheerful and did a fantastic job! We are really grateful to them all and they definitely made a difference.”

LITAC new meeting room

New space for the Leeds Institute of Textiles & Colour

A new base has been completed for the Leeds Institute of Textiles & Colour (LITAC) in the Clothworkers Central Building, with the management team due to move in this week.

The interior design team, part of the Estates team in the University’s Facilities Directorate, worked with Associated Architects to create the bright and airy space which comprises a large meeting room, offices, and a reception area with kitchen.

In consultation with LITAC, the design compliments the brand identity of the Institute, using the colours of its logo (black, cream, white and gold) in the style and finishes, while also being sympathetic to the Clothworkers’ Tower building in which the office is situated.

David Oldroyd, Interim Director of Development, Estates & Facilities said:

“The area was previously used by Chemistry and there was a lot of work to do before the build started, including dismantling fume cupboards and opening up the space. Lodestone were employed to do the build and have done a great job.”

“It was a pleasure for the Estates team to work with LITAC, who have excellence in design at the heart of their work. The result is a high spec, highly functional and inviting space.”

It has been designed not only with functionality and comfort for the team at its core, but also to provide a collaborative place for hosting the Institute’s research partners across different industries in a professional and creative environment.


LITAC is a collaborative University of Leeds research Institute that was founded in 2021. The Institute sits within the School of Design but works across campus coordinating expertise and resources to address global research challenges related to textiles, colour and fashion.

Its roots date back almost 150 years in textile and colour research. Building on the generous support of the Clothworkers’ Company in 1874, the legacy continues as LITAC will be based within the historical Clothworkers’ Buildings at the University of Leeds.

Professor Steve Russell, Director of LITAC said:

“The space has been transformed and provides colleagues with a superb facility for collaborative discussions, right next to the Institute’s extensive research labs and equipment.”

“With a dedicated entrance off Clothworkers’ Court, we look forward to welcoming all visitors to the Institute.”

Photos by John Tees photography

Sustainable garden team

Accessible makeover for the Sustainable Garden

Ayesha Fitzwilliam Hall, an apprentice in the Grounds and Gardens team, spotted an opportunity to develop her skills by redesigning and refreshing the Sustainable Garden, a much loved area of campus which had become overgrown following COVID-19 lockdowns.

She has worked with her colleagues and the Sustainability service to redesign the space to improve accessibility and usability. This includes the introduction of raised planting areas, new furniture to support workshops and learning, and establishing new edible planting to ensure that the space is ready to welcome students and staff back to campus in 2022.

Ayesha said:

“The Sustainable Garden is a wonderful area but lockdowns and fewer people on campus had an impact on its usability. I enjoyed leading a team of colleagues on the redesign work to make sure that the space was once again a great place for everyone on campus. The bigger task though, has been restoring the garden in line with the University’s sustainability principles. It’s hard work but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I hope to welcome lots of people to enjoy and volunteer in the space over the next year.”

More improvements will be added over the coming weeks and months, including a wellbeing area, with a view to bringing back regular volunteer gardening sessions for staff and students through this term and beyond.

Find out more about the Sustainability service at the University of Leeds.

Robert Bradley and Weetwood floodlight

New low carbon floodlights latest step to Net Zero by 2030

Low energy LED floodlights recently installed at Sports Park Weetwood – part of the University of Leeds – are set to reduce carbon emissions by 6.7 tonnes a year.

Their installation is among the latest activity in the work by Estates and Facilities to move the campus towards delivering net zero emissions by 2030, a key commitment of the University Climate Plan. 

The LED floodlights use less electricity than previous equipment and have greater light output, which means fewer fittings need to be installed. They also have a longer life span.

It is estimated the new lights will save 29,879 kWh of energy per year, which equates to a reduction of 6.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development said:

“All the work that we do makes a difference to students and staff however our work to move the campus towards delivering net zero by 2030 is the biggest single project by the Estates and Facilities team to make a difference to our planet and is at the core of the University’s Climate Plan.”

“It includes the targeted refurbishment of buildings, the installation of low carbon technologies and solar panels across the estate – including sports facilities like those at Weetwood – and the electrification of our vehicle fleet.”

“This work builds on activity over many years to save electricity across the breadth of the Leeds campus including installation of LED lighting and working with Faculties to use out campus more effectively.”

Reducing carbon emissions across the University

Other activity to reduce emissions – outlined in the recent Climate Plan quarterly report – includes work to develop a new heating, cooling and ventilation policy to reduce energy use. A shutdown of the steam network over the summer months contributed towards a 15% reduction in emissions between June and August 2022.

University Residences have begun a programme of low energy lighting upgrades, starting at Lupton.

A major project is currently underway to assess the opportunities for building retrofit and heat pump installation across campus to reduce energy demand, alongside identification of opportunities to install further solar panels on University buildings.

Further work has been commissioned including a report into climate resilience on campus, and an analysis of electrical requirements over the next 25 years.