The Bartlett School of Architecture\

Creating a home for the next generation of leading architects and designers

The Bartlett School of Architecture is one of the best in the world, and we are delighted we had the opportunity to create an inspiring home for their staff and students.

The challenge

Wates House (now known as 22 Gordon Street) was a tired and uninspiring building. However this has never prevented the Bartlett consistently providing the highest quality teaching and research. The School, however, had become a victim of its own success, and coupled with the poor condition of the building, was in chronic need of additional and improved space specifically adapted to its unique pedagogy.

Key drivers were the creation of a building that reflects the quality of the school’s teaching and research, whilst also making a positive contribution to the surrounding conservation area.

“We’ve enjoyed a great four-year partnership with Hawkins\Brown – they spent the time understanding our needs, which has resulted in a fantastic building for the faculty, the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture and a prized building for UCL. 22 Gordon Street introduces a new generation of staff and students to the possibility of what can happen through effective collaboration.”

Alan Penn Dean of the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

The big idea

Our design doubles the amount of teaching and research space available to the school’s students and staff, while retaining the building’s existing structure.

The entire building has been reconfigured to include significantly more studios and breakout space, encouraging collaboration across the school. Central to the design philosophy is opening up the façade of the building to reveal the activity within. This has been achieved by placing formal and informal exhibition spaces at ground floor level, inserting a new staircase to open up the building’s circulation, re-orientating the entrance and expressing key spaces to give strategic views of London.

The design also includes an extension to provide enhanced foyer and café space, exhibition space, state of the art workshop facilities and full internal remodelling to provide a variety of teaching and research spaces including seminar rooms, studios, crit spaces, computer clusters and academic and administrative offices.

“Hawkins\Brown have invested considerable time and energy into understanding our needs. They’ve talked to staff and students, and developed a brief and design that provide the best possible solution within significant constraints.”

Alan Penn Dean of the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

Working from the inside out

One of the positive aspects of the original Wates House was that it provided an anonymously robust canvas for the creativity within. Rather than design a pristine new environment that could restrict the school’s teaching and research our interior design approach celebrates the rawness of the original structure and reveals it for all to see. New elements of the building have been treated distinctly from the original to provide a clear narrative on the building’s evolution. Robustness, tactility and human experience have informed the internal palette of exposed and coordinated concrete and services complemented with bespoke joinery and accent furniture.

“Designing a building for a school of architects was never going to be an easy task, but working with Hawkins\Brown has been a fantastic experience.”

Alan Penn Dean of the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

The bigger picture

Expanding the area of the original Wates House by over 50% was a major challenge, particularly as the building straddles two distinct sub-areas of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area and in the vicinity of several listed buildings. Through working collaboratively with key stakeholders, including academics from the school, local authority planning, design and conservation officers, and local amenity groups we developed a contextually-sensitive and timeless design. Our designs have been carefully considered to respond to the surrounding, and emerging context in a contemporary manner to contribute positively to the setting of the Conservation Area.

  • Project Details
  • Project Update
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

Project Team

Project Manager: Mace
Environmental Engineer: Buro Happold
Structural Engineer: Curtins Consulting
Cost Consultant: Aecom
Sustainability Consultant: Expedition
CDM Coordinator: Turner & Townsend


  • CIBSE Awards 2020 - Project of the Year - Retrofit - Winner
  • Construction Excellence Awards 2017 - GB & Rol Construction Award - Shortlisted
  • Civic Trust Awards 2018 - Regional - Commendation
  • Education Estates Awards 2017 - Project of the Year - Winner
  • Education Estates Awards 2017 - Student Experience - Shortlisted
  • Education Estates Awards 2017 - Refurbishment of the Year - Winner
  • Building Awards 2017 - Refurbishment Project of the Year - Shortlisted
  • AJ Retrofit Awards 2017 - Higher and Further Education - Winner
  • AJ100 Awards 2017 - Building of the Year - Shortlisted
  • AJ100 Awards 2017 - Client of the Year - UCL - Shortlisted
  • New London Awards 2017 - Education - Winner
  • Camden Design Awards 2017 - Shortlisted
  • RIBA Awards 2017 - London Regional Award - Winner
  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2016 - Refurbishment - Shortlisted

Project Update

In May 2015, work completed on the demolition phase of 22 Gordon Street. The school, was stripped right back to its reinforced concrete frame in preparation for what has been termed a ‘deep retrofit’ of the 1975 structure. The demolition enabled major interventions to the existing structure including the creation of a double height space that will house a public gallery and enabling the building to connect to its surroundings, as a result providing a completely new environment for the school and its academic body. We are delighted that 22 Gordon Street is now completed, with staff and students due to move home in January 2017.


The project is part of UCL’s wider programme to modernise its Bloomsbury Campus and is seen as an important opportunity to demonstrate how the retrofit of the 1970s building stock is possible, whilst retaining the embodied energy and CO2 emissions held in the concrete frame. The project has achieved an overall environmental rating of 'BREEAM Excellent' representing best practice in sustainable design and construction, and takes the building performance well beyond minimum standards.

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