University College London has a shortage of student housing and in view of London’s ever growing shortage of space, has embarked upon a plan to maximise the use of their existing sites around the Capital.The James Lighthill development is in the grounds of an existing hall of residence on Penton Rise, Islington. The site is sandwiched between a 7 storey, existing student housing block and the 6m high boundary wall which forms the back of the new building. The new scheme provides 20 student study rooms on 3 storeys with shared kitchen/dining facilities at each level. The design is generated by the need to maximise daylight to the rooms but constrained by the need to maintain privacy. The result has been to create a small but surprising development on an unlikely, awkward, backland site. The ‘wave’ elevational form gives a striking presence within an otherwise difficult urban setting.