University of London’s new multi-purpose facility completes

Iconic £17.3m Senate House redevelopment complete at SOAS University of London

Construction of SOAS University of London’s £17.3 million redevelopment of the North Block of its iconic Senate House, has been completed by GRAHAM Construction.

The project has transformed an underused courtyard to create a multi-purpose space through the addition of an architecturally-ambitious glass roofed-atrium constructed between the existing Grade II-listed buildings. Two Olympic swimming pools-worth of spoil were excavated through a window on a conveyor belt to produce a double height space that maintains natural ventilation to the North Block’s upper levels. Providing an additional 1,000 sq m, it will be home to the new Student Hub which includes student finance, careers and enterprise services with a breakout area and café. 

The freestanding £1 million glass roof has created a beautiful and inspiring interior for both students and staff for formal and informal teaching and learning. The structure allows in natural light and ventilation that will help keep running costs and energy consumption low. Rainwater will be collected from the roof, stored and reused within the building; a system that has only been retrofitted into a handful of listed buildings.

In addition, 7,000 sq m of accommodation over five floors within the North Block have been refurbished to provide a mixture of high-quality teaching facilities, study areas and academic offices, as well as open-plan space.

Keith Jennings, Project Manager at SOAS University of London, said: “The project was technically challenging due to the need to build the new structures within an existing courtyard and the self-imposed timeline that would allow the building to be opened at the start of our centenary year. The finished building is an exciting blend of classical and modern which is already receiving praise from the academic and student communities.”

GRAHAM Construction’s London office director, Rob Joyce, said: “We understand the importance of creating an environment that is welcoming and creates spaces to encourage different ways of learning, while providing integral resources for the university. The roof structure, which took six months to complete, is among the most technically demanding components of the scheme because of the intricate nature of the glass installation. It called on our extensive experience of scheduling complex projects to ensure we delivered a high-quality facility for students and staff to enjoy now and in the future.” 

Mace provided project management on site and the scheme was designed by Rock Townsend Architects.

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