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Leeds Beckett project recognised in UK's Best Breakthroughs List

A project by architecture consultancy Project Office, made up of staff and students at Leeds Beckett, has been named as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives.

New Wortley Centre

The RIBA-chartered design and research collaboration between staff and students designed the New Wortley Community Centre in Leeds.

With no funds for architectural consultancy, the New Wortley Community Association approached Project Office for help with the project in 2009.

The university’s Project Office coordinated the design team and produced the construction drawings with graduate employees, while landscape architecture students designed the external realm, graphics students designed signage and product design students produced built-in furniture as part of their degree coursework.

Offering drug rehabilitation, a launderette, charity shop, IT and skills classes, back-to-work volunteering opportunities, and health and wellbeing classes, the Centre now plays a pivotal role for the most disadvantaged community in Leeds.

The list of breakthroughs demonstrates how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives, including the discovery of penicillin, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans to check the health of unborn babies and the establishment of the Living Wage.

The list was compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of the MadeAtUni campaign to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

It follows independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks which found that the public has little understanding of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings show that research is one of the key triggers to change opinion about universities but for many people, it is an abstract concept.

Dr Lisa Stansbie, Dean of the School of Art, Architecture and Design said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the university to be featured in the UK’s Best Breakthrough list. We’re extremely proud of the work of our academics in the school of art, architecture and design and the difference they are making to people, lives and communities.

“The MadeAtUni campaign is an incredibly important initiative for Leeds Beckett as it allows students, alumni, the local community and the wider population to understand the work that we do and the impact it has.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics.

“The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life was put together in partnership with universities across the UK. As part of the MadeAtUni campaign, every university in the country was invited to nominate the one thing from their institution which they believe has had the biggest impact on people, lives and communities. Over 100 universities submitted a nomination. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community and culture and sport.

You can find out more about the UK’s Best Breakthroughs and the MadeAtUni campaign here www.madeatuni.org.uk.

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