Back to the 2024 Shortlist Refurbishment

The Hyde Park Picture House

Sponsored by
Northcot Brick
1 Hyde Park Picture House Credit Jim Stephenson


Location: Leeds

Brick Manufacturer: Forterra PLC

Brick Name: County Multi Smooth

Architect: Page \ Park Architects

Brickwork Contractor: Pennine Brickwork

About the project

The Hyde Park Picture House is a Grade II listed independent cinema in Leeds, known for being the last gas-lit cinema in the UK (and potentially the world). It is an iconic cultural venue for Leeds and is cherished by locals and visitors alike for its cosiness and charm – retaining this character was crucial to the project. 

The Picture House sits within a popular residential area of Leeds, which is characterised by its high density of red brick buildings. The cinema is connected to row of red brick terraced houses, literally embedded in the center of its community, and standing proud as a survivor when so many other local cinemas of Leeds have been lost.

The project brief was partly to address the historic building’s failing fabric (including crumbling stone and brickwork, damaged plaster, leaking windows and water ingress) to ensure it survived and flourished for future generations. The other task was to make the building accessible and provide new facilities for the public via a new extension; including a lift, café / foyer spaces, more toilets, and most importantly, a second screen. Alongside these physical alterations to the building, the project aimed to celebrate the cinema’s rich history and bring its architectural features to the spotlight.

For the fabric repair works to the original cinema building, a careful conservation approach was taken with traditional materials and detailing techniques adopted. The brickwork of the original building was fully repointed using traditional lime mortar, in a mix to match the original as closely as possible. Localised brick repairs were carried out sensitively using hand-cut bricks from York, ensuring the best possible brick match was used. Sensitive façade cleaning was also carried out to refresh the building as part of the overall works.

For the design of the new extension, its scale was kept to a minimum and complementary materials of red brick and granite were used - with the new brick matching the original building in colour and brick coursing. It was important that the extension’s design was sensitive in the context of a Grade II listed building, but confident enough to complement and celebrate the cultural importance of the original cinema. 

Though the extension is essentially acting as a bolt-on ‘support’ unit to the original building, its façade design speaks to what is happening inside the building, and gives a nod to the Picture House’s 107 years of operating as a cinema. As a playful gesture, the extension’s brickwork coursing has been articulated to depict a series of 35mm film reel motifs across the façade - with soldier courses forming the ”frames” and recessed header bricks forming the ”sprocket holes”. This is also paying homage to the city of Leeds as the birthplace of motion picture film, made famous by Louis le Prince in 1888.

Inside the extension, areas of the original brickwork façade that are now internalised have been left exposed, as visual reminders of the original cinema building and the meeting of old and new.

Sponsored by Northcot Brick

Northcot Brick

Northcot Brick have been quarrying clay and making bricks for nearly 100 years. The richly-coloured bricks are made by Master Brickmakers who between them have hundreds of years of experience in the highly skilled art of brick-making. The bricks they make are used in all types of building projects all over the country.