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The Bartlett School of Architecture

Building futures

Exterior view of 22 Gordon Street with pedestrians and cyclist

How a deep retrofit saved money and carbon and equipped one of the world’s best architecture schools and its students for a stellar future.

Wates House, the old home of the Bartlett was anonymous on the outside and cramped and gloomy on the inside – in stark contrast to the luminous quality of its academic output. It was also inefficient and expensive to run. We showed how a deep retrofit represented better long term value for UCL. By rethinking the fundamental organisation of the faculty, we resolved the space and outdated learning environment issues, and improved the building’s performance. 22 Gordon Street now houses the School of Architecture alone and more than doubles the net internal area.

Central to the design philosophy was the opening up of the building’s façade to show the inspirational activity within. Generous glazing at street level reveals formal and informal exhibition spaces, a centre-piece staircase opens up the building’s circulation and radiates breakout spaces for staff and students to interact, explore and exchange ideas.

An extension provides enhanced foyer and café space, exhibition space and state of the art workshop facilities. Full internal re-modelling provides a variety of teaching and research spaces including seminar rooms, studios, critique spaces, computer clusters and academic and administrative offices.

Raw, hardwearing finishes tell the tale of the building’s 1970s concrete origins. They will also survive intense use by notoriously hands-on maker students, and provide a suitable backdrop to pinned up work, 3D models and exhibitions.


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.

The building achieved BREEAM Excellent, exceeding UCL’s campus-wide energy efficiency targets and transforming the life-cycle cost and comfort of using the building. Retaining the original concrete frame not only saved money and build time, it saved 400 tonnes of carbon.

Project details

Project name: The Bartlett School of Architecture

Location: London, UK

Service: Briefing and estates optimisation, Sustainable design

Value: £20M – £50M

Scope: Architecture

Clients: University College London

Status: Complete

Completion date: 2016

Accreditation: BREEAM Excellent

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

RIBA Awards 2017
London Regional Award - Winner

Education Estates Awards 2017
Project of the Year - Winner

Education Estates Awards 2017
Refurbishment of the Year - Winner

AJ Retrofit Awards 2017
Higher and Further Education - Winner

New London Awards 2017
Education - Winner

If you want to know more about our education and research work, contact Negar Mihanyar

If you want to know more about our education and research work, contact Julia Roberts