The Richard Attenborough Centre

University of Leicester

The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts is an Arts Centre open to all, with its focus on people with disabilities and members of the public who have previously found access to arts education difficult.

The centre offers courses in art, sculpture, music, dance and drama and higher degree work to encourage participation and performance to a professional standard.

The building is split into three differently constructed parts – the top lit walled structure for the rear block is separated from the front concrete and steel framed block by an all glass structural rooflight. The interior is designed to aid the orientation and comfort of users by manipulation in natural light, volumes and acoustics and consistent changes within a limited range of materials.

At the heart of the centre is a double-height, sky-lit hall, flanked by two rehearsal spaces that all open into one and on the upper level can be enclosed or overlooked by galleries. The foyer is also very flexible and accommodates public recitals. On the first floor are the library and fine art studios with exterior balconies.

Natural light animates all spaces, delivering an ideal working environment for creative activity. The use of natural ventilation is prominent and running costs remain low. Completed on time and within its limited budget, the centre is proving to be very successful in use. It was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 1998.

Project Information

  • Client
  • University of Leicester
  • Area
  • 1,025 m²
  • Structural Engineer
  • David Beattie Associates
  • Main Contractor
  • Laing Midlands
  • User Client
  • The Richard Attenborough Centre
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Michael Latham Associates
  • Architect
  • Ian Taylor with Bennetts Associates
  • Acoustic Consultant
  • Arup Acoustics


  • 1998
  • RIBA Award – RIBA Award
  • 1998
  • RIBA Stirling Prize – Shortlisted