Unit 8: Midland Cities I – Leicester

Unit brief

Midland Cities I – Leicester

Unit 8 seeks to investigate recent urban development in the Midlands and will propose alternative strategies of renewal through design interventions. We will take inspiration from the renewal of Vicenza in the sixteenth century, a city that boomed with a political and industrial shift in power from Venice. We will focus on the works of Andrea Palladio through a series of case studies, including the Basilica in Vicenza, to investigate the potential of architectural renewal through formal correction.

The Midlands

The Midlands is a culturally, socially and racially diverse region. We will examine cities such as Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Lincoln in the wake of the UK voting to leave the EU. We are interested in how the emotive character of these cities manifests itself within the urban fabric, and will propose renewal as a counterpoint to recent attempts at regeneration.


This year’s research will focus on Leicester – a city that voted to remain. We will examine Leicester as Palladio dissected Rome. Having recently undergone major urban transformation to establish itself as a cultural and economic hub of the Midlands, Leicester is on the brink of even more change. We will work closely with the City Council and the Mayor, as well as the local cultural and arts groups based in the city’s Cultural Quarter to develop our brief.

Architectural interventions

We will begin by surveying the existing structures of Leicester carefully through photography, drawings and models (Project 1). We will then design urban public spaces (Project 2), and a public building (Project 3), exploring the dynamic relationship between the series of architectural interventions and the collective of the city.

In the belief that architecture can be a catalyst for renewal of the urban environment, our architectural proposals will be inherently public in nature. We seek structures within the city that are true to their construction principles and capable of achieving civic expression. The projects will propose new urban spaces, structures and buildings that can endure the weight of time and use. The interventions will work as agents for renewal, and at the same time embody the particular memory and expression that characterises the city of Leicester.

Image credit: Andrea Palladio, I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura, 1570

Image of an architectural drawing titled Ideal Plan and Elevation of the Basilica di Vicenza.


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture
Tutors Takero Shimazaki
Summer Islam
Where Central House, fourth floor studios
When Monday and Thursday

Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA part II)