The home of The Bartlett School of Architecture in Bloomsbury has been stripped right back to its reinforced concrete frame in preparation for what the project architect HawkinsBrown has termed a “deep retrofit” of the 1975 structure. The demolition enables major interventions to the existing structure which will double the amount of teaching and research space available and provide a completely new environment for the school and its academic body.
Part of the existing first floor facing onto Gordon Street has been demolished to create a double-height space that will house a public gallery. This will be complemented by a new physical connection to the adjacent Christopher Ingold lecture theatre, which will allow the school to host large-scale events.
The demolition of the original plinth that encircled the building removes a barrier that once separated the building from the surrounding public realm and will allow new openings to be made in the ground-floor slab to allow daylight and views into the basement below. The whole façade has been demolished and will be extended by 1.5 metres towards the street in order to create more studio space and a new fifth and sixth floor will be added to the building. All internal walls and partitions have been removed to enable full reconfiguration of the internal spaces.
Euan Macdonald, partner at HawkinsBrown, said: “It’s an exciting time in the construction process, with the raw core of the former Wates House revealed and hints of its future beginning to emerge.”
The project is part of UCL’s wider programme to modernise its Bloomsbury campus and is seen as an important opportunity to demonstrate how the retrofit of the 1970s building stock is possible, whilst retaining the embodied energy and CO2 emissions held in the concrete frame.
The refurbishment of 22 Gordon Street will be completed by the summer of 2016. All staff and students are expected to move back into the building for the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year.