Conservation Portfolio | Aura

A selection of the landmark buildings we've worked on

Victoria Quarter, Leeds

Grade II Listed

In January 2015, Aura Conservation Ltd secured the contract to restore the intricately detailed terracotta facades and complex roof domes of the flamboyant and beautiful, luxury retail shopping arcade, Victoria Quarter, Briggate in Leeds.

Designed by Frank Matcham between 1898 and 1904, The Victoria Quarter consists of several linked arcades that run between Briggate, a pedestrian area that is Leeds’ central retail street, and Vicars Lane. This glamorous shopping precinct was created to replace an area of meat market slaughterhouses and slums in the late 1890s.

The Victoria Quarter building is distinguished by its warm, finely ornamented terracotta façades and its integral arcades in a free Jacobean/Baroque style. It consists of three matching blocks which spread across two streets. One of the streets is Victoria Street, which was covered over in 1988-90 to form the newest arcade.

In the early 1990s, these Grade II* Listed arcades were restored and the Victoria Quarter created. To create an additional arcade, adjacent Queen Victoria Street was roofed beneath an enormous expanse of stained glass, the largest stained glass window in Britain, by Brian Clarke.

Aura Conservation were appointed as Principal Contractor to carry out the full sympathetic restoration of the buildings 3 facades and roof works including the terracotta replacements to six roof domes. Due to age and general weathering, sections of the façade and domes had begun to fail.

The façade restoration commenced with a thorough clean using the Thermatech cleaning system and a biocidal treatment applied to masonry. This was followed by a vast amount of terracotta brick replacements and restoration, including terracotta in situ repairs and stitching and removal of ferrous fixings. The terracotta facades were then fully repointed. The works also included the rebuilding of the parapet balustrades and re-bedding of copings.

The project involved the complete dismantling and rebuilding of six of the original terracotta roof domes. Terracotta blocks were designed and produced to replicate the dome structure and original intricate detailing. One of the domes was in a better condition to the others and was therefore subject to repair work rather than full replacement with the intention of conserving the original structure.

Over 1500 terracotta blocks were produced and have been used to replace the damaged terracotta with sympathetic restoration techniques to ensure a water tight result.

In additional a large amount of lead work has been installed to projecting cornices and terracotta detailing at roof level creating water barriers to prevent future damage.

Roof work carried out involved replacement of roof slates and a bird deterrent system has been installed.

Finally, decoration work has included the repair, restoration and decoration of a number of timber sash windows.

As Principal Contractor Aura Conservation managed a number of sub-contractors on the project including asbestos removal and scaffold contractors.

The project has received a vast amount of public attention; was shortlisted for the RICS awards and was highly commended at the Constructing Excellence awards in 2017.

Aura are delighted to have played such a major part in the restoration of the Leeds City Centre redevelopment programme.


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