Founded in 1826, University College London (UCL) was the first university institution in London and the first in England to be established on a secular basis, admitting students regardless of religion and women on equal terms with men. It is regarded as being one of the world’s most prestigious universities, with a lively campus in the heart of Bloomsbury, one of London’s major cultural districts.
Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands were appointed by UCL as masterplanners for its existing Bloomsbury Campus and help it shape its academic, social and urban environment – building on the strength of its established campus while enhancing its reputation for academic excellence. The university recognised that their long term estates’ strategy needed to look beyond one-off ‘object’ building projects to consider the estate more broadly, in terms of modern teaching methods, flexible space, public realm, branding and the challenge of attracting students and staff.
The objectives of the masterplan include improving the performance and efficiency of the estate’s teaching and learning spaces, laboratories and workshops and a major audit of the spaces illustrated the potential to make the estate more flexible and efficient through space planning, management and refurbishment.
Improving engagement with the public through signage and way-finding focuses on access to UCL’s major collections, define the edges of this city campus and improve permeability and public realm. New routes through the campus will ease navigation and day-to-day experience, new public spaces at key junctions and the animation of public spaces with mobile catering, temporary structures and events benefits students and the public alike.
The masterplan is based on nimble strategies and a ‘menu’ of individually costed and independent projects that can be implemented as and when funds and partners emerge. Achieving maximum impact for a minimum cost was a key driver for the university, and a series of ‘quick win’ projects have already been identified to begin on site, signposting the intent of the longer-term strategy and kickstarting the process.
Stakeholder and public consultation was wide and complex, involving staff, students, local authorities and many stakeholders. The project team mapped out a strategy for consultation in tandem with the masterplan, engaging with users to inform the audit, consulting with users and relevant bodies as the objectives emerged and finally communicating the masterplan through a series of events including an exhibition, talks series and a microsite specially designed to communicate and gather feedback.
The team comprised Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands as masterplanner and architects, and included specialist consultants whose complementary skills in a range of disciplines included building engineering, energy, sustainability, space utilisation and space standards, laboratory technology and landscaping.
Shortlisted for the London Planning Awards 2012
Client University College London
Location London, UK
Status Completed 2011
Architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
Services Engineer WSP
Photography UCL Comms
Images Alan Marten