Go back

With an ambition to accelerate the transition towards zero carbon cities, this scheme will forge a powerful collaboration with local and international partners to deliver an exemplar model of how to economically build zero carbon neighbourhoods that also provide healthier, smarter and better connected places and cities.

White proposed a masterplan that transforms the industrial environment into a walkable, healthy, family friendly environment underpinned by good design and great places. The proposal for the Climate Innovation District is characterised by dense, multi-functional and resource-efficient developments in an urban environment with an integrated green infrastructure and proximity to the surrounding nature. The mixed-use, safe urban district has integrated activities, services, accessible healthcare and schools, plus a diverse range of vibrant urban spaces open to everyone. Citu and White share the belief that this approach to design is central to any sustainable urban solution.

Addressing climate change
A successful and sustainable local neighbourhood is a product of the distances people have to walk to access daily facilities. As such, transportation is interpreted as mobility at the Climate Innovation District, making non-motorised movement the priority. The masterplan has a distinctive urban design, allowing for a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly street environment; all needs are in reach by bike or by foot.

The goal is to embrace natural resources. The sun’s natural energy will be used through daylight, passive solar gain, photovoltaic (PV) modules and active solar panels. High levels of natural light penetration within this tight urban fabric is achieved by optimising the solar potential of the site by orientating buildings broadly to the south.

Green space is associated with a decrease in health complaints and additional indirect benefits: it encourages social interaction and integration, provides space for physical activity and play, improves air quality and reduces urban heat island effects. As such, the Climate Innovation District is designed to ensure that residents are never far from a green space.

As the name of the district suggests, the development aims to address climate change through innovative and exemplar innovation. Unique for the project – and a first in the UK – is the on-site manufacturing facility Citu Works, which will manufacture the timber frame housing system for the district’s 516 Passive House homes.

New headquarters
Citu embraces the notion that a creative place and working environment helps stimulate minds and inspires innovation and introduces a unique working environment to their design and sales teams. The new headquarters ‘Citu Works’, housed in a White-designed extension to the existing timber frame factory building, adapts to the users, creating a positive and proactive workspace that is part of an employee’s life. The office will be an open window to creativity and the approach Citu uses to deliver projects.

Low carbon homes
In addition to Citu Works, a cross-office team at White developed the design for 320 houses and apartments in the district. The designs have a modern feel, yet fit into the local surroundings with ease, much with the help of beautiful landscaping that softens the area’s industrial past. The timber frames for the homes will be manufactured in Citu Works. To ensure low carbon emissions throughout the buildings’ lifecycle, an interdisciplinary work process informed modelling and calculations of thermal performance of the buildings at early design stages interpreting the BIM model.

Leeds Climate Innovation District is a city district with a strong identity that is clearly defined in the urban environment. Once home to iron, steel and chemical works, the area is now developing into a community based on Scandinavian urban densities and a high standard of environmental performance. The approach to sustainable building design and production will support the area’s identity and popularity, providing an inspirational approach to development for Leeds and the UK.

Climate Innovation District

  • Client: Citu
  • Project Start/End: 2016-2022
  • Apartments / Rooms: 320
  • Cost: £125 million
  • City: Leeds
  • Photographer/Illustrator: White


  • Geoff Denton
  • Keith Boxer
  • Mehdi Bahrami
  • Linda Thiel
  • Lukas Thiel
  • Sara Yllner
  • Freya Tigerschiöld
  • Alexandra Holman
  • Joel Jouannet
  • Rickard Nygren
  • Sarah Dahman Meyersson
  • Maha Shalaby

Similar Projects