Updating a classic

Nick Myall
Friday 16 Dec 2016

University College London (UCL) has unveiled a reworked London HQ for the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture

UCL’s refurbishment of 22 Gordon Street in London, designed by architects Hawkins\\Brown, will double the space available to the Bartlett School of Architecture in its Bloomsbury home, in a modern, light-filled building built on the structural concrete frame of its predecessor

One of the world’s leading architecture schools, the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, has officially opened its new central London headquarters at 22 Gordon Street in Bloomsbury. The 8,500 sq m building will provide accommodation for 1,000 staff and students.

22 Gordon Street has been designed by leading architecture practice Hawkins\\Brown in collaboration with the UCL Bartlett and UCL Estates as part of Transforming UCL, the largest capital programme in the university’s history.

The new building stands on the site of Wates House, the home of the Bartlett in Bloomsbury since the 1970s. The “deep retrofit” project retains the structural concrete frame of the existing building, making substantial interventions to deliver a radically different new building: preserving some memory of the old, while providing high quality, up to date facilities and nearly doubling the accommodation available on the site. 

22 Gordon Street is envisaged as a central London headquarters for the Bartlett: a dense, social and networked building at the heart of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus that will open its doors to academic colleagues, to the profession and to the wider public, providing a space for the discussion of architecture close to the point of production.

By operating in tandem with open, adaptable, practice and manufacturing-focused facilities, also designed by Hawkins\\Brown and due to open at Here East in September 2017, 22 Gordon Street will enable the Bartlett to deliver innovative new programmes for architectural education.

Bob Sheil, Director of the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, said: “Our return to Bloomsbury will be the crown on what has been a fantastic 12 months celebrating 175 years of architectural education at UCL. Moving to Hampstead Road was a revelation for the school and the temporary home enabled us to develop our approach to both teaching and research. The additional space Hawkins\\Brown have created has facilitated the school launching four new programmes, which will be delivered both at 22 Gordon Street and our space at Here East.”

Alan Penn, Dean of the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, said: “We’ve enjoyed a great four-year partnership with Hawkins\\Brown – they spent the time understanding our needs, which has resulted in a fantastic building for the faculty, the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture and a prized building for UCL. 22 Gordon Street introduces a new generation of staff and students to the possibility of what can happen through effective collaboration.”

Andrew Grainger, Director of UCL Estates, said: “22 Gordon Street is the first major building to be completed as part of Transforming UCL, which will see huge investment across the entire UCL estate over the next 10 years. The original Wates House was in poor condition and did not meet academic needs or environmental standards. 22 Gordon Street is a massive improvement which meets UCL’s ambitions to provide high quality, sustainable environments for teaching, learning and research.”

Euan Macdonald, Partner at Hawkins\\Brown, said: “The refurbishment of 22 Gordon Street for the Bartlett has delivered a flexible, robust building, launched as the starting point of a new estates strategy that will help the school continue to grow and innovate.

The UCL Bartlett School of Architecture is consistently ranked among the top architecture schools worldwide. When Wates House opened 40 years ago it was designed to house 380 students and 90 staff. The school now has around 1,000 students and 134 staff.

22 Gordon Street will provide approx. 3,000 sq m more floor area than Wates House, doubling the area available to the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture by moving the faculty library and School of Planning into the nearby Central House building. The new-found space will enable the Bartlett to offer innovative new educational programmes and provide students with a dedicated desk space for the duration of their course.

22 Gordon Street is an exercise in lean, hard-working architecture. The building provides robust, generous spaces that have been designed to provide students with the flexibility to work and learn. There is more studio and breakout space to encourage collaboration amongst students and staff.

The centrepiece of the new building is a new stairway within a full height atrium. Conceived as a social generator, the stair will provide the main circulation for the building, encouraging free movement between floors. Doors have been removed from studios, which have been opened up to encourage open/cross unit interaction and debate.

Double-height glazing at ground level and a prominent new entrance enhance the building’s setting and connection to the street, creating a public, welcoming shop window for the work going on inside the building. A new gallery and access to an existing auditorium will provide the school with the means to host large public events.

A new brick façade, extensively glazed with generous, full-height, timber framed windows in deep recesses, rethinks the relationship of the building to the surrounding conservation area, a move welcomed by the local planning authority.

22 Gordon Street will be an intensively used building, with the aim of having minimum energy consumption. The improved energy performance will be achieved through enhanced building fabric and low energy systems. The building’s carbon emissions will be at least 30% lower than requirements of Building Regulations (Part L 2010) and the use of solar (photovoltaic) panels will provide the building with additional clean energy.

Nick Myall

News editor

Key Facts:

United Kingdom
Commercial Offices

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team