Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Bloomsbury

A sensitive update to Sir Denys Lasdun’s iconic brutalist university building for the University of London.

This project thoroughly upgrades the Grade 2* listed Charles Clore House, designed by Sir Denys Lasdun. A phased refurbishment of the building has been undertaken that improves the occupant comfort, accessibility, security, and environmental performance of the building.

Accumulated fixtures and fittings have been removed to showcase the original exposed concrete finishes while the reorganisation of the library, administration and academic research spaces are upgraded, but still speak the language of the original materials. The facilities have been reorientated to take advantage of the views of Russell Square and Bloomsbury with the Library entrance and flexible working area relocated to overlook the square. Circulation and spatial arrangements have been reconfigured to breakdown the siloed nature of the original space to encourage greater interaction and collaboration of building users. A materials palette consisting of anodised aluminium, painted metalwork, stained timber, fabrics and period colours has been used to complement the distinctive 1970’s aesthetic and exemplar concrete finishes. Specialist concrete repairs and careful coordination of services have further enhanced the inherent qualities of the building finishes.

The project was delivered with the building and library remaining in full operation. Acting as Lead Architects, and Project Managers under a traditional contract, Burwell Architects developed a detailed implementation programme with the works arranged in phases. Charles Clore House is a building that was always intended to be modified and adapted, its clear open floor plates between bold concrete cores allow for this, as was Lasdun’s intention. Our response has been to adjust the building in a way that both keeps the spirit and aesthetic of the interiors, befitting its status as a listed building, whilst bringing it up to date in its arrangement and technical specification.

Project Team

Client: University of London

Lead Architect: Burwell Architects

Structural: Price & Myers

M&E: Fowler Martin

Quantity Surveyor: Currie & Brown

Heritage: Alan Baxter

Acoustic: Ion Consulting

Main Contractor: Overbury

Project Data

Construction: 2019-21

GIA: 6,346 sqm

Form of Contract: Traditional