26th April 2023

Raising the Roof with LEEDS 2023 & the WOW Festival


A new project at this year’s WOW – Women of the World Festival will see our team become ‘barn raisers’ in a live 24 hour challenge that will build a creative space for women, girls and non-binary people, as part of  LEEDS 2023.

The WOW Women of the World Festival celebrates the achievements of women, girls and non-binary people, and works to identify some of the causes that prevent them from achieving their potential. In partnership with LEEDS 2023, which is a year-long celebration across the city, The WOW Barn will celebrate and embrace difference, with a group of 300 novice and professional barn raisers coming together to create a bespoke barn from scratch, with just 24 hours on the clock.

From 6pm on Sunday the 30th April until 6pm the following day, the collective will work together to build a new temporary event space on Cinder Moor in Woodhouse, Leeds. Inspired by the dream of a world where all women, girls and non-binary people feel like they can be, do, and achieve whatever they wish, those helping to build the barn will be coming from across West Yorkshire with the 300 allocated spaces representing all districts.

In the run-up to the challenge, there have been five bootcamps set-up for novices, all taking place at Leeds College of Building and catering to those with an interest in architecture, engineering, set design, building or DIY. Novice applicants didn’t have to have any of those skills already, they just needed to be keen to learn some construction skills, meet new people and help drive the festival’s ambitions to amplify the voices of the women, girls and non-binary people who so often remain unheard.

One of the 150 professionals making up the 300-strong team is our very own Hannah Keighley, an Associate based in our Leeds studio. Discussing her work to-date helping create the barn’s design, Hannah shared: “Over the past year we have been working with LEEDS 2023, WOW, and other talented designers to create the design for what will be the barn. A particular challenge for us has been the  consideration of the fact that the barn will only be in place for two weeks. So, thinking about making it as simple to construct as possible, having minimal lasting impact on the Cinder Moor, whilst also making it an impressive and flexible space for the programme of events which will follow the build. We have also given thought to the future use of the structure, which will be disassembled and have a future life on another site.

“This has been an incredible project to be involved with, and different from anything I’ve done before. Not least because I will have the rare opportunity to take part in the build phase, which I am incredibly excited about. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the barn structure is going to be something really quite special, and I can’t wait to see it brought to life.”

With our team here at Civic Engineers passionate about volunteering their time to help and support communities to grow and thrive, ‘Raising The WOW Barn’ looks set to be a great opportunity for Hannah, and all the women sharing their time, skills and passion to create a unique space for learning and lifting each other up.

 *Image Credit Lucille Moore for LEEDS 2023


Raising the Roof with LEEDS 2023 & the WOW Festival