UCL East

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK

University College London was founded in 1826. Officially known as UCL since 2005, the capital’s oldest university has a prestigious roster of alumni that includes Alexander Graham Bell, Gandhi and Ricky Gervais. To date, this institution is the alma mater for 29 Nobel Prize winners.

Alongside a reputation for educational excellence, UCL is renowned for disruptive thinking. This was the first university in England to welcome women students; it was also the first to accept undergraduates of any religion or social background.

Continuing this tradition of purposeful evolution, UCL East is the largest single expansion in the university’s history. Located on East Bank – a new district for culture, creativity and learning in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford – this development will complement the existing Bloomsbury campus as a home for new degree programmes, research and technologies. Apart from enjoying superb academic facilities, students will benefit from sustainable accommodation, modern retail units and spaces designed to foster meaningful community engagement.

Challenge

UCL discerned a clear vision for the project – situated at the centre of this effervescent emerging London quarter, the campus will embody the spirit of a 21st century university. This is an inclusive environment that will integrate research, education, enterprise and public engagement. For students, staff and the community, UCL East is designed to be a hospitable, inspirational and memorable place. The programme has been devised to allow smoothly phased delivery in accordance with an overarching masterplan. At each phase through to completion, there must be a coherent and functional campus in operation that provides a pleasant user experience for all.

East Bank is a new powerhouse for innovation, creativity and learning on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Image: LDA Design

Solution

In collaboration with the broader design team, Buro Happold delivered a series of engineering strategies that not only addressed the requirements of phased construction over 10 years but also provided long-term adaptability. This work covered energy, water, ICT, mobility and security together with sustainability and SMART plans. A phased approach to infrastructure delivery maximised use of existing utilities capacity while balancing earthworks within the constrained site areas.

To assist the masterplanning process, we made extensive use of interactive modelling to test environmental aspects of the proposals, such as sunlight and wind. This analysis was undertaken in tandem with people flow studies that accurately simulated site user experience. Buro Happold also assisted the architect in developing a series of generic academic building typologies to allow a mix of structural types to be tested within the masterplan framework.

UCL East will facilitate multi-disciplinary research, teaching and innovation, in areas such as robotics, smart cities, culture and conservation, for around 4,000 students. Image: LDA Design

Value

Our multidisciplinary team provided the client with a clear, coordinated proposal that helped to achieve the vision for UCL East. Underpinned by a rich heritage of progressive values, this exceptional campus will enable generations of academics from all over the world to think disruptively about what a university can – and should – be.

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