Wilkins Terrace

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Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Award

Region

Greater London

Local Authority Area

Camden

Information about this scheme

Despite the scale of UCL’s estate in Bloomsbury, the University lacked good quality collegiate public realm. Through their masterplan, an opportunity was identified to create a new piazza above an existing service yard and provide high quality external space for both staff and students. It was also part of the University’s wider strategy to improve accessibility; in particular, east-west movement across the campus. The existing service yard had become unsightly and was overlooked by a number of important university buildings, including the Grade I listed Wilkins Building. The challenge was to connect these disparate elements with one cohesive design, in addition to the creation of the new terrace, as well as several practical issues to be solved: providing good access and maintaining services to the surrounding buildings. The service yard has been enclosed as an undercroft, allowing the external space above to become the new amenity space. This is conceived as a contemporary, high quality terrace set within the historic courtyard with a verdant, planted edge. The terrace is split level with the lower space serving the new Lower Refectory, which is linked by a new lift and grand staircase. A light well along the northern edge of the terrace provides daylight to the lower levels of the Physics building, in addition to ventilation to the service yard below. The planting has been devised as part of the public art strategy with the University, to create a scheme with year-round movement, texture and colour of a quality to complement the hard materials palette of the terrace and offer a range of benefits and engage the student community. Edible herbs, fruiting species and scented plants are positioned around seating clusters, with foliage changing in character and form as planters step down to paving level. Climbing white wisterias trail along steel shade structures giving summer shading and further vertical layers of interest. The majority of the planting is located in the sunniest south-facing area. A new ‘fourth façade’ in Portland stone completes the composition, using London stock brick to create a harmonious relationship with the surrounding buildings. Designed to classical proportions and to mirror the rhythm of the 1820s façade opposite, this also conceals the myriad services required for the Lower Refectory.

Credits

Client

University College London

Architect

Levitt Bernstein

Landscape Architect

Levitt Bernstein

Structural Engineer

Curtins

Services Engineer

BDP

Project Manager

WSP

Quantity Surveyor

Potter Raper

Planner

Deloitte

Primary Use Class

Class D1c - Education