Phoenix Square digital centre set to open in Leicester

The Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre will open in Leicester on 17 November, the culmination of a £21m project that will give digital arts and independent cinema a home in the city.

Delivered by Leicester City Council, De Montfort University and developer Blueprint in association with Leicester Arts Centre, it is funded by the council, DMU, Blueprint, the European Commission, the Arts Council and EM Media.

Architect Marsh Grochowski, lead consultancy on the project, had a joint proposal with Atkinson Design accepted in 2007 following a tender.

Atkinson Design has created elements of the interior of the centre, which is largely monochromatic to allow projections and screenings to be held in different parts of the building.

Jonathan Anderson, designer at Atkinson Design, says, ‘We wanted to make it future-proof, so we’ve created two technical walls behind the staircase, with drop-down wiring, which can allow for any screens to be attached.’

A foyer area and bar have also been created by the consultancy – ‘the only places where there’s strong colour,’ says Anderson. The front panels of the bar are in etched glass to match lighting fins.

Leicester-based consultancy New English was appointed to create branding and signage for the centre after winning a pitch in January.

Taking its brief from the council, the consultancy was asked to brand the four elemental parts of the centre based on usage.

New English responded by creating a masterbrand – Phoenix Square Film and Digital Media – with an identity that is ‘typographic, but suggests the centre’s digital nature’, says senior designer Ian Clewitt, who used a ‘meshing effect’ to create the word ‘Phoenix’.

As a mixed-use building, the centre will accommodate 63 homes, three cinema screens, 37 digital design studios and seven two-storey office units.

Colour-coded sub-brands have been created for Phoenix Square Living (green), Phoenix Square Film and Digital Media, (magenta), Phoenix Square Office Studios (cyan), and Phoenix Square Work Space (orange).

Wayfinding takes its cue from the coloured branding and has been applied to walls and stairwells within the building as large-scale graphics. ‘

We’ve also incorporated the identity into wire frames,’ says Clewitt, whose consultancy created a holding website which informed the design of the final website by Nottinghambased consultancy The Dairy.

A digital programme has been announced for the centre’s opening. It will include the first showing of Virtual Roman Leicester, DMU’s interactive research project which digitally recreates Roman Leicester.


  • The Cube, a 3D ‘immersive gallery’ from De Montfort University, will be demonstrated at the opening. Mike Candler, Leicester City Council’s cultural quarter project director, says, ‘It’s a white box with technical capacity for sound and projections that can be linked directly to the university for new-media projects’
  • An installation by illustrator Sally Rose will show that living space has been integrated into the building’s design. Candler says, ‘Rose has made hand-drawn large-scale furniture, which will sit next to real furniture in the public spaces’

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