The Calls winning proposal by Fletcher Crane Architects


Architectural Team: Fletcher Crane Architects / Toby Fletcher, Ian Crane and Sam Stevens
Structural Engineer: Elliott Wood/Gary Elliott, George Georgiou
Building Environment and Services Engineer: Skelly and Couch/Mark Skelly, Matthew Chantzidakis
Quantity Surveyor: Quantem Consulting/Dan Watson
Landscape Architects: Whitelaw Turkington/Ian Turkington

© Fletcher Crane Architects

This is the winning scheme for a international competition to design a new office development on the river front in , UK. The competition was run by the UK magazine The Architects Journal.

© Fletcher Crane Architects


‘The Loom’ is the apparatus for weaving strands of local business into a collective.

The design approach will enable the scheme to have iconic status both locally and throughout Yorkshire giving local business’ a wider presence throughout the region. The proposed waterfront cafe on site, along with the retention of the existing restaurant will complement the business hub providing an alternative venue for meeting, networking and relaxing. Opening up the water front will provide a destination and meeting place for Leeds, attracting people to the area and facilitating exposure for the local business’.

© Fletcher Crane Architects

The initial brief called for an iconic building, and delivering a commercially viable scheme that was able to meet that criteria whilst responding to the city urban design agenda, historic context presented a great challenge. The proposed scheme has been carefully developed to be appropriate to the site, but also be uniquely crafted, providing a presence at local, regional and national level. The proposals look to marry the external architecture with that of the interior environment, making the most of the fantastic site and location whilst providing the best possible working environment for the buildings owners and occupiers. The design sets out to be environmentally and socially sustainable whilst creating prime office space within a format that is efficient yet flexible.

The building design aims to deliver a dramatic river front facade, utilising the expanse of the river and adjacent sheer faced wharf buildings of the south bank as a canvas. The proposal responds to the immediate vernacular, whereby the structural form continues the subtle contortion of the Calls wharf side roofscape. Recognising that the local area was made up of many small businesses, often in sub divided premises, the proposals seek to provide a section of the building as a local business support hub and business / social meeting space. The intention is that by providing a visual focus to the area local businesses will be able to utilize the premises for networking, entertaining and improved identity.

© Fletcher Crane Architects

One of the key aspects of the proposal is to deliver a fantastic new public space for the city, a place that will provide extended use throughout the day beyond that of a conventional office development. In section the level changes from the street level through to riverside provide an opportunity to allow the proposed open space to be lower and therefore more immediate to the river, allowing the public to engage with and touch the water – something currently lacking with the Calls.

The counterpoint to the open river front is the street facade. Working from the same rigorous grid layout two very different experiences are generated by the street facade. Deep columns reach down to the ground vertically, opening up on three grid lines at the various entrances to the building and river frontage. When approaching the building obliquely along the tight historic streets of the Calls the envelope appears as a solid form, in keeping with the masonry construction prevalent to the Calls. Once upon the building the arrangement of the columns will open up to provide tantalizing glimpses of the public space and river beyond.

© Fletcher Crane Architects

The proposed new public space will provide the area with a unique and distinctive meeting place for the city. It will be a place to shelter from the cold during the winter months and bask during the summertime. It will be a philanthropic gesture to the city, reflecting the numerous delightful bustling arcades that can be found in the historic shopping district. One of the delightful attributes that this external space will acquire is the play and dance of light on the under side of the river front facade delivering a true connection with the building, surroundings and the elements.

Internally the aesthetic is intrinsically linked to the external structure and architectural form. The columns are laid out on a typical commercial grid dimension and, because of the scale and massing of the building, you are always aware of the morphing structure. The top floors of the proposal will afford the opportunity for a fantastic contemporary space. a real synergy of structure, light and views, a combination that sets out to deliver premium office space, meeting rooms, board rooms or break-out spaces.

© Fletcher Crane Architects

At the transition between the new and retained buildings the proposals adopt a light touch to preserve the integrity of the existing wharf building. Elements such as the huge signage will be retained in situ, becoming a bold part of the interior design. The construction of the extant wharf building will allow the richness of materiality to be explored and will deliver a contrast between the two sides of the development.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "The Calls winning proposal by Fletcher Crane Architects" 03 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Lil Yimmy

    Very interesting texture and light! Bravo!
    Complex and yet very accessible.

  • Katsudon

    Smart! Simple, beautiful, in harmony with the surroundings at different levels, simple energy saving solutions and i hope functional. This is totally what i call “making architecture”.

  • alex

    Yes, certainly the best entry in the contest (on par with the brilliant Alan Bennett proposal). That public space overlooking the river will be fantastic.

    And lovely drawings.

  • Pingback: Crane Rentals Are Making Tough Jobs Easier | Offline Marketing Tips and Information - Free Article Resources

  • sp

    Beautiful line drawings that really convey the sense of activity within the spaces. Really refreshing to see over ultra realistic renders. Would say simple, but the look anything but…. As for the architecture, a well considered scheme for sure: striking structure that mediates its surroundings well. Look forward to seeing how the architect resolves the cladding, glazing/ curtain walling in the detail.

  • BIPS

    Better than the yellow peril of last weeks posts but still 30% too wide and 15% too tall. I wonder what the people with all the west facing office windows in the Victorian Calls Landing building will have to say about this concept blocking all their light! How could it get planning permission even if submitted? Did these guys who do nice drawings from Middlesex actually ever visit the site?

  • Katsudon

    @BIPS If i’m not wrong Landing building is actually part of the project. The facade you’re talking about is gone and new and old building slabs unified.

  • Pingback: Friday news round-up « Builder Banter

  • Andrei P

    Beautiful presentation and concept.
    Some explanations for the airflow diagram would be useful though.

  • Dr Freddy

    Another ribs design!
    How many ribs projects have you seen in the last 10 years?


  • Katsudon

    The question should be, how many NICE ribs projects have you seen in the last 10 years? ;-)