Northgate House

Client: Calderdale Council


Northgate House is an excellent example of how existing buildings can be transformed through strategic retrofit to help regenerate town centres. Located in the heart of Halifax, West Yorkshire, built in 1982, Northgate House was originally home to Calderdale Council’s offices and the public library.


By the 2000s, the uninsulated and energy-hungry building was considered no longer fit for purpose and from 2017 the complex sat vacant after the council relocated their offices and the library service moved into a bespoke new facility. Proposals to replace Northgate House with a retail centre development fell through, and the building was earmarked for demolition as a ‘problem site’ and a physical and economic drain on resources.


Instead, Calderdale Council embraced the radical idea to explore creative new uses for the building and engaged LDN to lead a multi-disciplinary team to reimagine Northgate House as an active mixed-use development and learning facility to enliven and contribute to the town’s public life and economy, and provide a local model for energy-saving redevelopment.


Close collaboration and trust between Client, Consultants, Contactors, Stakeholders and Tenants drove development of proposals which focused on strategic interventions to unlock new life and uses of the existing building, changing only as much as necessary but as little as possible;


·    upgrading thermal and air-tightness performance of the building fabric

·    retention of the massive concrete frame and facades

·    introducing low-energy services and natural ventilation


The former library accommodation was identified as being suited to use as a 6th Form Academy and allowed the Client to partner with a local Academy School to develop a state-of-the-art learning facility for 600 students within the town centre rather than an out-of-town greenfield site. The envelope was insulated internally and areas of façade opened up to introduce natural light, support a BMS-controlled natural ventilation system, and provide street presence and identity to a previously defensive and anonymous building. A new atrium brings light and air into the centre of the plan above a university-style study hub and drives the stack effect for the natural ventilation.


The Academy has been embraced by residents and is consistently over-subscribed for student places. In 2021, OFSTED’s inspection awarded the facility ‘Outstanding’ in all categories.


The former office accommodation was reordered by a strategically placed new accommodation stair and formation of a new entrance. The ‘Grade A’ adaptable office space created incorporated low-energy lighting and can operate in natural or mechanical ventilation modes depending on Tenant requirements. To address the existing sunken central courtyard which encouraged anti-social behaviour, a new podium deck was introduced form high quality public realm at street level which then activates new retail units around the perimeter. The Academy’s sprinkler tank was concealed within the space created beneath the podium.


The project is the result of close collaboration to deliver a transformational project within the client’s budget which aimed not only to reduce embodied carbon and energy usage but to provide new high-quality educational and economic opportunities for the town’s residents.


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