About the East Leeds Project

By Founder and Director Kerry Harker

Through the East Leeds Project I want to open up a creative conversation about what life is like in the east of the city, and how it might develop into the future, questioning ideas around community, identity, sustainability, and participation. The project focuses on the corridor of green and blue space following the Wyke Beck route between Roundhay and Rothwell, linking these as one space for artistic exploration.

The view over Fearnville Fields. Photo: Jojo Harker

When the open call came in summer 2017 to submit ideas for the Leeds2023 bid, it acted as a catalyst and provided a platform to get things up and running, giving voice to ideas I’d been developing as a long-term resident of Gipton. Collaboration is key, and I’m in conversation with potential partners including Canal Connections, Chapel FM, local ‘Friends of’ groups, Leeds City Council, LS14 Trust, Space2, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Foxglove’s ‘Leeds Lighthouse’ (John Smeaton was from Austhorpe in east Leeds).

The East Leeds Project intends to respond to deep-seated social challenges and the disconnect between communities on the fringes and the burgeoning city centre. The Wyke Beck route is a wonderful asset that could enhance the lives of residents in some of the most deprived areas of the city. There’s an opportunity for the project to make links across areas such as Gipton, Harehills, Seacroft, Cross Gates, Killingbeck and Halton Moor among others, engaging people more with the green space on their doorstep and contributing to improved health and wellbeing.

With conservation at the heart of the project, this ‘green lung’ is essential for future sustainability, both locally – in terms of breaking down the problem of a ‘two-tier city’ that the Leeds2023 bid sought to address – and in helping the wider city find creative responses to urgent challenges such as flood alleviation and pollution. If you’re interested in these issues and east Leeds, please get in touch!

More information coming soon. To stay connected as the project develops, please sign up to the mailing list mailing list here.

ELP black logo trim

East Leeds Project CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.

*The faune typeface was created by Alice Savoie in the context of a commission by the Centre National de Arts Plastiques in partnership with the Groupe Imprimerie Nationale, used here under Creative Commons license CC BY-ND 4.0.


The Pavilion

The East Leeds Pavilion

Design-Construct-Explore-Together. Repeat?

Announcing a partnership between the East Leeds Project, MassBespokeTM and the communities of east Leeds.

The potential site of the East Leeds Pavilion, close to Fearnville Leisure Centre.


It is our ambition to create a temporary ‘Pavilion’ on green space in east Leeds. Our preferred site is adjacent to Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton. The Pavilion will be a shared space, managed locally, where people come together for conversation, creativity and exchange. The process will be entered into collaboratively by local people alongside artists, architects, students and professionals from a range of disciplines, coming together to form an intergenerational project team. The project aims to reconnect with histories of innovation in sustainable social housing central to the founding vision for the Gipton estate in the 1930s, as we approach its centenary.


The Pavilion will utilise the MassBespokeTM system developed in Leeds by Bauman Lyons architects. This pioneering technology democratises the construction process by enabling a community-led approach responding to local need. MassBespokeTM employs a computer-controlled (CNC) cutting machine set up on site in a ‘Flying Factory’ to fabricate components from digital design files sent from anywhere in the world. From these, agile, high-performance timber cassettes are fabricated and rapidly assembled onsite by a local workforce comprising skilled and semi-skilled workers. Training is built into the project programme at every stage, and outputs will include enhanced digital literacy and skills development for those seeking employment. The project facilitates exchange between workers, residents and professionals sharing their respective skills, specialisms and enthusiasms with each other. MassBespokeTM is designed to achieve high standards of environmental performance, optimise use of materials, eliminate waste, and remove the need for heavy transport and lifting equipment at all stages of construction.


The Pavilion will provide a maker space for activity led by stakeholders. As a creative hub it will enable responsiveness to key dates in the cultural calendar such as Light Night and the Gipton Gala, and provide a base for exploring the Wyke Beck Valley on foot and by bicycle. Although imagined as a temporary structure, the Pavilion will be robust and could remain in situ for a number of years. Over time, a ribbon of pavilions could be constructed throughout east Leeds, growing cultural infrastructure where little currently exists and specifically addressing the complete absence of creative workspaces in the east of the city. Structures constructed through the MassBespokeTM system are potentially mobile, and once disassembled the land can be returned to its original state.


Once established, the Factory could enable many communities to build homes and other facilities. It could generate a new social enterprise of community makers supplying garden sheds, workshops, garages, house extensions and so on through a local supply chain adding social value to place making. The Pavilion will form an R&D phase as we test the technology, build community trust and enhance our understanding of local infrastructure needs, and gather our workforce and creative team. We are actively seeking potential partners and collaborators for the project including local residents, businesses and organisations, citywide training and service providers, and creative makers of all kinds, particularly those based in east Leeds.

If you’d like to get involved, please contact us for more information.

Photography credit: Andy Irving

East Leeds Makers

Are you a Maker* in east Leeds?
Get involved by completing our online survey

*Maker – a person who makes things – people who are artists, knitters, bakers, fabricators, photographers, designers, musicians, dancers, builders, producers, craftspeople and gardeners… amateurs and professionals alike!

East Leeds Makers Research Project – Survey now live!

The East Leeds Project is undertaking a new research project – East Leeds Makers. The project is linked to our belief that creativity is fundamental to a healthy and happy life – for everyone, for individuals and communities. But beyond the city centre, across the whole of east Leeds, there are no dedicated spaces for making: no co-working spaces, artists’ studios, maker spaces, hack spaces, or open access workshops. We already know a handful of creative people living in east Leeds but we believe there are many more out there.

East Leeds Makers aims to find out who makes what in east Leeds, where they do it and who they do it with. Whether people draw, weave, print, bake, whittle, film or fabricate. We’re interested in a really broad definition of making and we don’t draw any distinction between professionals, amateurs and hobbyists.

We are working on the project with Katie Raw, East Leeds Project’s Undergraduate Placement from the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. Utilising Katie’s interest and prior experience of using geographical mapping software, we intend to produce a cultural map of the area.

Cultural mapping is about physically plotting the different cultural aspects, networks and connections that exist in an area onto a map. We want to uncover making skills, connections and trading opportunities within East Leeds and then map these links in a way that we can share with local communities.

The research project is an initial step towards the East Leeds Project’s ambition to create a Pavilion at Fearnville Fields in Gipton – a temporary structure designed and built by, with and for the community. We have a vision of a shared creative space that is open and accessible to all, a place for getting together to showcase, share and exchange our skills in making. This research project will inform how the Pavilion project develops, and help the growth of new networks for a wider conversation about creativity in our part of the city.


The research project is now live and will gather data over the next few months, with the intention of publishing our research in the summer of 2019. Please go to the survey by clicking the link below:



Invitation to the Gipton Conversation Dinner

Download the Conversation Dinner Oct 2018 Flyer We’re excited to be working with partners in Gipton (Space2, The Old Gipton Fire Station, Gipsil, Gipton Together, Church of the Epiphany, Leeds City Council’s Communities Team ENE, and local residents) to stage the very first Gipton Conversation Dinner this November. Following a successful precedent in neighbouring Harehills last …


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