UCL centre to create progressive space for 1,000 students

Planning permission granted for new UCL Student Centre, designed by Nicholas Hare Architects

UCL is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary universities, with a global reputation for excellence. The flagship project reinforces UCL’s commitment to creating the most exciting university in the world at which to study and work. A new student centre building will enhance UCL’s rich heritage of distinguished architecture and its commitment to strengthening the public realm and character of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area. 

The New Student Centre will create a progressive and adaptable environment that includes 1,000 study spaces for students, a Student Enquiries Centre, a cafe and space for exhibitions, and a roof terrace with views overlooking the dome of UCL’s Grade 1 listed Wilkins Building. It will have four floors above ground, plus two basement storeys. The learning spaces will vary in character and size, creating different types of individual study and group environments. None of the spaces will be used for formal teaching. Dedicated to the needs of the students, the building will deliver spaces and furniture that are flexible, adaptable, and IT resourced. 

An indoor study space

Transparency and daylight will define the heart of the new building. Generous space through the publicly accessible ground floors will give a sense of welcome and inclusion. 

A highly sustainable agenda for the project becomes manifest through a palette of durable high-quality materials that will age gracefully. Brick and reconstituted stone will frame the exterior of the building, whilst an exposed concrete frame will characterize the interior. Embedded cooling pipes set within the floor slabs will contribute to a low-energy mixed mode strategy that supports 24-hour use. 

The New Student Centre is central to delivering UCL’s Masterplan vision for the long-term development and improvement of the Bloomsbury Campus, and will be built on the last piece of undeveloped land on Gordon Street, set between the Bloomsbury Theatre and listed buildings. 

A view of the building on Gordon Square

The design has been developed through collaborative engagement with a broad range of UCL’s stakeholders and neighbours, and has gained strong support from Design Council CABE, Historic England, and Camden Council’s design and conservation officers. Deloitte Real Estate acted as planning consultants for the scheme. 

Construction is expected to start in 2016. The project will be ready for students for the start of session in Autumn 2018 

Andrew Grainger, Director of UCL Estates, said: “The New Student Centre is a flagship development within our estate transformation programme, which exemplifies UCL’s commitment to be good custodians of this fine heritage estate in central London. This last undeveloped brownfield site in the heart of Bloomsbury will be transformed into a centre for student learning for the benefit of students and the wider public. The new building will showcase quality architecture and our commitment to improving the public realm across our campus.” 

James Eades, Partner at Nicholas Hare Architects, said:  “We are delighted to have built broad support for the project and for the quality of our proposals. The building will enhance the character of the public realm, and bring significant benefits to students and the community within Bloomsbury. 


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