Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created with support from Trudi Entwistle and Jess Bryne-Daniel from Leeds Beckett University, School of Architecture.

This resource explores the people who have helped to shape the built and natural landscapes of Leeds.


A Global View

Many of the major civic buildings in Leeds, such as the General Infirmary, the Art Gallery, Leeds City Museum and the Library, were designed and constructed in the mid-late 19th century. During this period in America (1861-65), a civil war was fought over issues including the enslavement of African people. This resulted in emancipation (enslaved African people gaining their freedom). The British Empire was also climbing towards its peak. By Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Britain controlled over a fifth of the world's land surface, including Australia, Canada, India and large parts of Africa and Oceania.


Curriculum Links

  • KS2 Geography:  Describe and understand key aspects of human geography | Geographical skills and fieldwork.
  • KS2 Art and Design: About great artists, architects and designers in history
  • KS2 Maths:  Measurement (including scaling).  See Activity Ideas
  • KS2 History:  A study of a site dating from a period beyond 1066 that is significant in the locality.


Activity Ideas

As a class you could get out and about in your local area and look up at what’s around you! Quite often we walk through spaces ignoring the detail on the buildings around us.

Think about the building materials, shapes, spaces and details you notice and enjoy. You could use your sketchbooks to record features of your local built environment.

Think critically: the people in power shape the landscape and buildings round them. All the historical architects who designed the city of Leeds are white men. All those who funded historical buildings are white men. This is changing now with contemporary architects practices in the city. Use this as a starting point to discuss power and multiple or ‘hidden’ histories.

  • Find a building that you all really like as a class to visit and explore, looking inside and out. Divide into three groups. One group are Reporters, one group are Collectors and one group are Explorers.
    • Reporters you will need to take photos, carry out internet research and talk to people to answer these questions:  Who’s idea was the building? / Who used it in the past and who uses it now? / How many different types of user are there? / How does it stand up? How was it built? / When was it built? / How long will it last? / Who paid for it and how much was it? / What effect does the building have on users? / Do people enjoy using the building? / What do people say about it? / What does it feel like to be there? 
    • Collectors should be looking out for objects, shapes and patterns that are an essential part of the whole experience of this building. That means thinking about what else is around the building and how people have used the building for different purposes. Objects might include: leaves, pebbles, tickets, leaflets, postcards connected to or found nearby. Shapes and patterns can be recorded through photography, rubbings, sketches and drawings.
    • Explorers are trying to find out more about this building and its shape, size and detail by using a different thinking and looking tool. Explorers should think about the building as if it is an unexplored mountain or cave. You could look for: handholds, ledges, rough surfaces that give good grip or smooth ones that might be slippery, places to shelter from wind and rain, different ways in and out of the building, numbers of stairs inside and out etc.
  • Local architectural safari – you could use your favourite images from our architectural image bank to create your own architectural safari of Leeds. Select your images, find out a bit more about the buildings, the architects and where they are in Leeds, Design and create your own safari tour guide.
  • Visit the town centre and take pictures of your favourite buildings. When you are back at school you could create a classroom city silhouette. You will need to draw the silhouette of one building that you were most interested in. Draw the silhouette as large as possible onto black paper and cut it out. Once they are cut out all the class silhouettes can be put together on a wall display.
  • During a city visit focus on the detailed architecture of the buildings. Ask pupils to look carefully for any carvings, engravings or patterns they are interested in. See you can find the Atlas Statue on The Atlas Pub, on the corner of King Street and St Paul’s Street for a good example.  
    • Make sure that they photograph or draw some of these. Back in the classroom get pupils to design and make their own architectural features for example, gargoyles. 


Contemporary photograph of a sculpture of Atlas, at the top of a building entranceway.  On his back is a stone globe shaped object.
Sculpture of Atlas in Leeds

  • School grounds are a great resource and should be places where you feel happy, safe and comfortable. Explore your school grounds more carefully and write poems, design trails and treasure hunts, make a questionnaire, note and record different sounds using your outdoor spaces as a stimulus. You could write words in chalk in the playground describing you feel about different spaces and how you could improve different areas.
  • Split into groups to measure different parts of the school building and as a class, create a scaled floorplan.
    • Make a list of the buildings, rooms and grounds, colour coding areas depending on whether you like or dislike them.
    • Think about and discuss why you like or dislike each area. How does each space make you feel? Think about how areas you have marked as ‘dislike’ could be improved. Create a plan for how this space could be redeveloped.


Discussion Ideas

  • What will Leeds be like in 100 years time? To help your discussion you will need to think about:
    • What will be different about people/food/lifestyle/schooling/transport and travel
    • What will places to visit, places to shop, places to hang out, places to eat, places to be entertained and to play be like?
    • You could plot your ideas onto a map of Leeds and use an historic map to show change over time.

Ideas adapted from activity created by Matthew Bellwood.