Back to News

May 22

Flagship Performing Arts College Completed in Wakefield


CAPA College, the specialist performing arts college we designed in Wakefield, has been completed.


Occupying a prominent position on one of the city centre’s main gateways, CAPA College is a DfE funded project to create an exemplary new facility for 16–19-year-olds with serious ambitions for a career in the creative arts. The College has capacity to train up to 500 students with courses including Contemporary Dance, Drama (Stage and Screen Performing Arts), Musical Direction, Production Arts or Creative Media Production.


“The site identified for the new CAPA College is directly opposite the Westgate train station so there was an immediate opportunity to design a landmark building not just in terms of the aesthetics but also by creating unique teaching and learning spaces,” explains Mark Eden, our lead architect for the project. “Our design approach began with a ‘black box’ concept for the exterior that would incorporate large elements of translucent glazing. The building is then wrapped in a black corrugated cladding, which helps reference an industrial aesthetic as well as bringing the idea of movement into the elevations in a contemporary way.”


The focus for the interior design was a 150-seat theatre set in the heart of the building. Surrounding this is a series of double height studios for drama and dance, classrooms, office space and workshops for making sets, props and costumes. A ground floor café, which is open to the public, also serves as a front of house area for public performances. The building’s upper levels contain additional technical teaching spaces for media, television production and lighting design.


Mark continues: “The specific requirements of the brief resulted in a lot of non-standard spaces, but we chose to keep much of the curvature on show. We also deliberately kept to a muted monochrome material palette so that students can personalise the interiors with photos from productions or artwork they create. Finally at the rear of the building, we designed an outdoor amphitheatre with tiered seating and artificial grass; the whole design intends to encapsulate how lively and exciting it is to learn and work in this building.”


Constructed by Morgan Sindall, the build was completed last month (April 2022) and CAPA College will take full occupancy in time for the next academic year. Initial feedback is wholly positive. Mark concludes: “It’s been great to see early reactions to the completed building, especially where people have commented on how much it looks like our original visual. Our hope is this becomes a real flagship for the city; it is the only facility of its kind outside London so we’re proud it will provide opportunities to uncover more Northern talent!”