The First White Cloth Hall dates from 1711 and is situated on Kirkgate, Leeds’ oldest street. Having gone through a variety of incarnations, including significant Victorian alterations, the building fell into disuse and became vacant in the 2000s.
Sections were then demolished on safety grounds and the building currently sits in what Historic England describes as a ‘Very Bad’ state.
As part of the ongoing Lower Kirkgate Townscape Heritage Initiative, Buttress was commissioned to compile a Conservation Plan, and produce an Options Appraisal that would identify a suitable and viable way forward for the building.
Subsequent to the Conservation Plan, options for this challenging, yet fascinating, site were produced in sketch form and developed using BIM software following a detailed laser survey.
The design options were produced in conjunction with regular design reviews that assesses the impact of the proposals on the building's heritage, and the suitability of the designs within the context of the building's heritage.
A preferred option was identified, and we have since been appointed to undertake the design development to completion.
The plans will include a rebuild of the building's demolished West Wing and northern elevation, as well as the re-creation of the single, undivided assembly room space. A lightweight structure will enclose the central courtyard to reveal the building's historic form, and a contemporary structure on the southern elevation will provide a new physical and visual link to Leeds' Corn Exchange.
The Conservation Plan explores the history and importance of the First White Cloth Hall and uses remaining fabric evidence, documentary research and site analysis to piece together the building's story and significance. The report aimed to help reveal the importance of the building, which had been obscured due to its deterioration over time.
The report then fed into the Options Appraisal element of the project and sought to identify issues and opportunities facing the site. It was used to try and optimise the potential of the First White Cloth Hall as a significant building within Leeds' cultural landscape, and guide future development work.