Hawkins Brown Unveils New Central London HQ for the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture

Hawkins Brown Unveils New Central London HQ for the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture

Hawkins Brown, in collaboration with the UCL Bartlett and UCL Estates, designed the new headquarters for the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, one of the world's leading schools of architecture. The refurbishment of 22 Gordon Street will double the space available to the Bartlett in its Bloomsbury home, in a modern, light-filled building built on the structural concrete frame of its predecessor. The 8,500 sq m building will provide accommodation for 1,000 staff and students.

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 HawkinsBrown 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.

"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," said Euan Macdonald, Partner at HawkinsBrown. "A large number of the HawkinsBrown team are alumni of the Bartlett and have fond memories of the old Wates House. This was a challenging and hugely rewarding project for us and the result is a building that retains fragments of the original fabric while establishing fundamentally different relationships: as an academic space 22 Gordon Street is far more social and interconnected; as an institution, it has become better integrated to its context, outward-looking and welcoming to the public."

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.

HawkinsBrown's renovation maximises the accommodation provided by the constrained, city centre site, adding a new fifth and sixth floor, as well as a full height extension to the south. Further space was gained by removing the concrete plinth that ran around the perimeter of Wates House, bringing the façade up to the property boundary, adding 1.5m to the floorplate so that the building fills the site footprint above ground.

22 Gordon Street has excellent environmental credentials in line with UCL's clear ambition to deliver a sustainable estate. The retention of the concrete structure of Wates House has helped to significantly reduce carbon emissions and landfill waste associated with the construction project.

The project is on track to achieve an overall environmental rating of 'BREEAM Excellent' which represents best practice in sustainable design and construction and takes the building performance well beyond regulatory minimum standards.

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.

Photography: Jack Hobhouse

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