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Cruciform Hub, UCL

The first major student hub implemented as part of UCL’s Bloomsbury Masterplan, this project refurbishes the Grade II Listed Cruciform Building for contemporary academic use.

Originally designed as a hospital block by Alfred Waterhouse in 1905, the historic Cruciform Building had undergone a series of detrimental modifications over the years. The building is currently used as the teaching facility for UCL’s Medical School, and the project area consisted of a group of poorly functioning library and teaching spaces located at lower ground floor level. The brief was to use this space to create a welcoming and vibrant student hub that provides exemplar student orientated space conducive to learning, contemplation and collaboration.

A new staircase link enclosed within a stainless steel framed structurally glazed box, provides direct access from the ground floor entrance hall, and allows natural light to filter down into lower ground floor spaces. Light further penetrates the space through newly opened windows and roof light inserts, which offer framed views from lower ground floor level up at the building’s iconic gothic façade. The original library access corridor has been converted into a new loans collection area with an almost infinity vista. Glass exhibition cabinets are used as spatial dividers and provide animated visual interest both through the display of medical objects and movement of users as they circulate through the spaces. This arrangement provides an acoustic buffer between the group work areas and the quiet study spaces, adding animation and transparency to the spaces. Polished concrete surfaces, oak linings and bespoke joinery and furniture, create a rich palette of finishes and colours which complement the existing building fabric.

The project required the design of high quality but flexible spaces capable of responding to seasonal change in demand. The suite of teaching and seminar Rooms have been arranged so that they can be used independently during the day and can become part of the hub when not booked for teaching. A new computer suite and reconfigured library offers 24-hour access to students. The result is an adaptable facility that reflects and celebrates UCL’s outstanding academic record in the field of medicine, and position as a world class university.

Project Team

Client: University College London
Lead Architect: Burwell Architects
Project Manager: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Structural Engineer: Michael Barclay Partnership
Services Engineer: Aecom
Quantity Surveyor: Potter Raper Partnership
Main Contractor: Mulalley

Project Data

Gross Internal Area: 1,560 sqm
Construction: 2012-14
Form of Contract: Design & Build