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Object Based Learning Room, Bloomsbury

An innovative timber ceiling raft provides the technical solution for this unique teaching space in UCLs historic Wilkin’s Building.

University College London have a fantastic collection of historic objects associated with scientific exploration and cultural endeavour. The new Object Based Learning room provides both exhibition space for the objects, with a study area to examine, review and learn from them.

The project required an advanced technical specification, with high quality lighting, audio visual, data connectivity and air conditioning. Delivering this within a building with Grade 1 status presented a significant design problem. The solution was to introduce a completely new ceiling raft constructed from lightweight steel trusses and timber. This structure is supported by two new storage pods at each end of the room, so does not require suspension or support from the ceiling or walls. This principle protects the historic fabric of the room and provides a concealed network for the technical specification.

The design of the raft features a repeating pattern of inset timber veneered panelled triangles which provide support for lighting and speakers. The lighting design, contained within the raft, provides both ambient lighting to complement the refurbished rooflights that bring natural light into each end of the room, but also task lighting for the study areas below. In addition, linear LED lines of light are integrated into the top of the raft, giving soft up- lighting on the ceiling, highlighting the historic detailing of the coffered ceiling above.

The raft concept is essentially a removeable object within the room, that has minimal impact on the listed building. This project is a fully reversible intervention; a new floating object that is beautiful, striking, and sympathetic to the space.

Project Team

Client: University College London
Lead Architect: Burwell Architects
Structural Engineer: Peter Brett Associates
Services Engineer: Elementa
Main Contractor: Arcadis

Project Data

Construction: 2019-20
Form of Contract: Tradition