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 

Esther Simpson blue plaque in lecture building

Blue plaques on campus

Did you know we have blue plaques across the University campus?

There have been many influential people who have attended or worked at the University of Leeds since its earliest days. The Blue Plaques across campus highlight special achievements and celebrate those who have helped to shape our history and heritage.

Leeds Civic Trust has been installing blue plaques across the city since 1987, commemorating people, events and buildings.

Esther Simpson OBE (1903 – 1996)

Born in Little London, this University of Leeds graduate became the Assistant Secretary of the Academic Assistance Council in 1933. Over the following decades, she dedicated herself to saving hundreds of refugee scholars from persecution and death, including sixteen future Nobel Laureates.

Esther Simpson blue plaque outside Esther Simpson building


Live at Leeds

The University Refectory has become a legendary concert venue. On 14 February 1970, The Who’s electrifying performance at this venue was recorded and subsequently released as ‘Live at Leeds’, which has since become the most celebrated live album of its time.

Live At Leeds blue plaque outside Leeds University Union

Fanny Passavant (1849 – 1944)

In 1884, this individual was appointed as the Librarian of the Yorkshire College, and when the University of Leeds was established in 1904, she became its first librarian. Under her direction, the library experienced significant growth and was initially situated at the same location. By the time of her retirement in 1919, the library’s collection had expanded to include 80,000 volumes.

Blue plaque outside the Great Hall

Sir William Bragg (1862 – 1942)

The Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds from 1909 to 1915, developed the first x-ray spectrometer and was a pioneering figure in the x-ray analysis of crystal structures. Along with his son, Sir Lawrence Bragg, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915.

Sir William Bragg blue plaque outside Sir Henry Bragg building


Sir Clifford Allbutt (1836 – 1925)

From 1872 to 1881, he had served as a physician at the Leeds General Infirmary from 1865 to 1884 and later became the Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge. He is most famous for inventing the short-stemmed clinical thermometer and for revising ‘The System of Medicine’, which was considered the authoritative text for doctors at the time.

Sir Clifford Allbutt blue plaque

The Yorkshire College

Constructed in 1879 with the generous assistance of the Clothworkers’ Company, these buildings served as the first dedicated premises of the Yorkshire College, which had been established in 1874. They housed the weaving and dyeing sheds, as well as the museum of the Textile Department. In 1904, the College was granted university status and became the University of Leeds.

The Yorkshire College blue plaque

Fairbairn House

The blue plaque at Fairbairn House commemorates the life and achievements of William Fairbairn, who was a prominent engineer and played a significant role in the industrial revolution. Queen Victoria stayed in the Fairbairn House in 1858, where she also came to open the town hall.


Check out the locations of the plaques on the Leeds Civic Trust website. Find out more about campus by following @UoLCampusDevelopment.

Steve Sloan standing outside the Security Office

Ten minutes with Steve Sloan – Project Manager, Security Services

Meet Steve Sloan, a Project Manager in Security Services. He helps to keep our campus safe by reviewing and recommending campus security improvements. Find out more about Steve’s involvement with the SafeZone app and the Bike register.

Describe your job in a couple of sentences.

I look for continuous improvement opportunities within the way we work, the systems and processes we use, and how we function as a service within the Facilities Directorate.

Tell us about a current project.

It’s important that the Security team on campus are equipped with all the information they need to help students and staff if they are stopped and asked a question. The team all now have handheld devices that link to our key services so that they can point to and explain resources such as SafeZone and BikeRegister. I led this work and it is making a big difference.

In general, the main focus of my role at the moment is to review and recommend improvements to campus security, everything from vehicle access to CCTV cameras. The first phase of the project will concentrate on the public spaces in and around campus and will eventually encompass all University sites.

What aspects of your work do you think are the most important to people at the University (staff/students) ?

Making sure that students, staff and visitors feel safe and that there is a structure in place that supports them when things don’t go to plan. It should be easy to get help and my role is to make sure it is.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the creativity, thinking outside the box but within the University strategies and legislation, for instance not all campus users have English as a first language and when developing the handheld devices for the team I  incorporated a translating app that will help them to communicate. A simple thing that we hope achieves a lot in terms of providing an exceptional service to everyone.

Tell us about a project you are particularly proud of.

I’m particularly proud of my involvement in the adoption of the SafeZone system. It provides an instantaneous response from Security officers to staff and students who call for help. It’s a great APP that many staff and students have already benefited from and can be used to support lone working and remote working as well as international student and campus based staff. You’ll soon be able to see the location of the LUU night bus on the app.

Find out more about developments on campus by following @UoLCampusDevelopment

Master of the Universe sculpture outside Edward Boyle library being put into place by constructors.

Estates and Galleries light up campus

The installation this week of a new sculpture outside the Edward Boyle Library has been a collaboration between the Facilities Directorate and colleagues working in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery.

Lighting design

‘Master of the Universe’, by world-renowned sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, took up its position last week in an operation coordinated by Christopher Wade, Architectural Technical Officer in the Estates Design Office.

A key consideration in the setting for the sculpture has been the lighting design, which Christopher has worked on with lighting designer Alkestie Skarlatou of Light in Space.

“Illuminating the sculpture in the evenings not only benefits the sculpture’s appearance, but also ensures it is a wayfinding point after dark,” says Christopher.

“The design of the lighting is critical as it influences how the sculpture is ‘read’ outside daylight hours. A lighting wash over the whole sculpture would risk overwhelming its detail and misses the opportunity darkness presents to emphasise parts of the sculpture”, he adds.

Inspiration from William Blake

Master of the Universe’ is a bronze sculpture which takes its inspiration from a painting by the artist William Blake. In Blake’s painting, the figure is a depiction of the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton crouched over a mathematical diagram, from which he is taking measurements with a pair of compasses. In the Paolozzi sculpture, the figure is astylistically mechanical representation of the sculptor.

Although the messages the two works seek to convey are different, the figure’s posture and focus in each is the same and the lighting emphasises the same area of the sculpture – the face, hands and area the compasses rest on – as the light in Blake’s painting.

“Positioning the lights to achieve this took some consideration, as they need to be raised off the ground but not obvious during daylight hours,” says Christopher. “We are therefore fixing the lights to the underside of a bespoke interpretation panel, which during daytime presents information about the sculpture.”

In order to limit energy use, the lights will be switched on automatically at dusk and off again later in the evening along with other lights on campus.

Grounds and Garden team

The Facilities Directorate are also putting finishing touches to the Paolozzi’s surroundings, with a  landscaping design implemented by thes Grounds and Gardens team, providing a sympathetic backdrop for the sculpture.

Leeds Alumni

The piece was donated by Douglas Caster, who completed his degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds in 1975.

Masud Khokhar, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, said:

“Leeds is a significant centre of science, art, and culture, so it’s fitting that our community will be able to experience this fascinating artwork whenever they visit the Edward Boyle Library.”

“I hope the message behind the sculpture inspires students, staff, researchers and our wider community to pursue knowledge in exciting new ways.”

For further information, read this news story about the Paolozzi Sculpture arriving at the university.


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 

Security Services standing outside the Great Hall building, featuring the electric vehicle

Security Services increase electric fleet

Now with four fully electric vehicles and one hybrid, the Security Services team are contributing to the University’s reduction in fleet admissions. Around fifty per cent of University’s entire fleet are now electric.

Our Climate Plan’s central pillar of Net Zero emissions by 2030 highlights the importance of tackling this reduction.

Mark Bownass, Head of Security Services, says that the vehicles have other benefits too.

“The team uses charging points on campus so never have to leave the site to buy fuel, meaning they are available 24/7.”

“The servicing costs are lower and no oil is needed. Some of the team are in the cars for long periods of time – such as those patrolling overnight – and they report that the cars are comfortable, very well-fitted and technically agile.”

Find out more about the University’s commitment to Net Zero by 2030.

Pictured left to right: Operations Manager Greg Evans and Security Officers Tayyab Hanif and Sohail Masroor

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

Drone shot of Bodington Football Hub

New community football facility for Leeds

Grassroots sport in Leeds received a huge boost in October with the unveiling of the Bodington Football Hub, a new facility for the community of Leeds.

Located at Sports Park Bodington – part of the University of Leeds – the new Hub is built in partnership with the Football Foundation and includes three full-size, artificial 3G floodlit football pitches, car parking and a pavilion with changing facilities and a café.

It has been made possible thanks to a £4.3m grant from the Football Foundation which is a charity supported by the Premier League, the Football Association and the Government.

The result of partnership working between the University, the Football Foundation, West Riding County FA, and Leeds City Council, the Hub progresses the development of four sites in Leeds that together will provide 13 new full-size pitches, responding to the need for sporting facilities in and around the city.

David Oldroyd, Interim Deputy Director of Development said:

“This was a major project for the Estates team working with partners across the university and elsewhere. The Hub is a key facility for the community, and the design of the pavilion – which includes communal seating and inspiring artwork –  reflects that.”

The University already partners extensively with community clubs and schools through its volunteering programme, which sees students coaching and officiating locally.

Ella Williams, Activities & Opportunities Officer, Leeds University Union (LUU) said:

“LUU is here to help students love their time at Leeds, and for me that includes being part of a wider community in the city and the region.”

“While the Hub will host many community clubs, I know that our own footballers are excited about having access to this state-of-the-art facility and about the University and the Football Foundation contributing to local sport in this way.”

Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added:

“This is a brilliant example of how investment from our partners, the Premier League, The FA, Government and Sport England improves grassroots facilities across the country.”