Lower Refectory, Wilkins Building, UCL

The Lower Refectory transforms student experience by providing a new and accessible dining hall and social hub.

Located within the Grade I Listed Wilkins Building, the new refectory has been created within an original, double height arched space located on the lower ground floor. Refurbished to an exceptionally high standard, the new dining hall is a stunning congregational space which offers a significant increase in capacity. Tall, fixed banquette seating subdivides the open plan layout into a series of more personable spaces and helps to manage acoustics.  

Two orangeries flanking the main dining space create relaxed breakout spaces, with fixed low seating ideal for informal study. Areas to the east and west of the hall are more intimate spaces, providing added privacy for smaller social gatherings, or for a quiet solitary coffee. In combination with the recently completed Wilkins Terrace, the project has transformed connectivity across campus. The space is also arranged to enable 24-hour access, allowing students to study beyond opening hours, and the university to host events throughout the year.

The project was one of a series for UCL within the historic Wilkins Building, focussed on improving student experience and creation of spaces that support informal learning and social interaction. The new refectory has proved to be extremely popular with students, who have adopted it as an unofficial group learning hub, as much as a place to eat. Any one time, it is full of undergraduates with laptops discussing their current projects.

Project Team

Client: University College London

Lead Architect: Burwell Architects

Project Manager: Parsons Brinckerhoff

Structural Engineer: Curtins

Services Engineer: BDP

Fire Consultant: IFC Group

Catering Consultant: Western Blueprint

Quantity Surveyor: Potter Raper

Main Contractor: T.E. Scudder

Project Data

Gross Internal Area: 1,500 sqm

Construction: 2013-17

Form of Contract: Traditional