ICL Lecture Theatres, South Kensington

The innovative Connect seating systems transforms teaching at Imperial College London’s South Kensington Campus.

These three new lecture theatres for Imperial College London at their South Kensington campus, are the most recent examples of the use of the Connect seating system that has been designed and developed by Burwell Architects over the past ten years.

To establish opportunities for interactive learning, the arrangement and specification of these lecture spaces have been designed to allow a more diverse range of teaching activities; to include group activities with shared digital inputs and outputs. Based on the principle that comfortable and informal arrangements of seating patterns create natural student groupings, we have found that our approach has positively encouraged and enabled a wider range of collaborative learning. The lecture theatres are the result of considerable pedagogical research that aims to produce active, rather than didactic learning opportunities. Evidence demonstrates that these lecture theatres are booked for teaching more often than traditional raked theatres, and that even when the space is free, students choose to use them for collaborative and private study.

The Connect furniture system was first introduced in 2011 at Loughborough University. We now licence the design to Race Furniture, with whom we have developed a series of new lecture theatres for universities in the UK and Ireland. The system is now being used by other architects in projects in Europe and the US. With each iteration come new innovations. Most recently we have incorporated IT technology into the desking, so that digital learning can be shared. These new lecture theatres for Imperial College London demonstrate diverse arrangements, including opposite seating, and a hybrid theatre and seminar room.

Project Team

Client: Imperial College London

Lead Architect: Burwell Architects

Structural Engineer: Curtins Consulting

Services Engineer: Troup Bywaters + Anders

Quantity Surveyor: Mortimer Isaacs

Furniture Construction: Race Furniture

Main Contractor: Russell Cawberry

Project Data

Construction: 2019-21

Form of Contract: Traditional