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McAslan adds to Lasdun at SOAS

John McAslan & Partners has won planning and listed building consent for a £7.5 million scheme to extend the School of Oriental and African Studies' Bloomsbury campus by creating new buildings, subtle linkages and space-saving measures. The permission comes at the end of a long consultation process with conservation groups - which McAslan says has taught him many lessons.

The practice won the permission this week from Camden Council, subject to a Section 106 agreement on landscaping, parking, a green transport plan and the preparation of a conservation and management plan.

The library at the Charles Holden-design building's heart is by Sir Denys Lasdun and may be listed shortly by English Heritage. Lasdun himself was a key consultee and was instrumental in moulding McAslan's revised proposals for the building.

After honing its scheme over two years through consultation with Lasdun, English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and others, McAslan's has now won permission for a scheme which seeks to give the institution the 25 per cent more space than it desired when it commissioned the partnership. To do this it will build two new wings with a linkage to the library and Holden building, a new entrance to the library and connections at lower ground-floor level. The larger of the two new wings will be a new department for the school - perhaps for Middle Eastern Studies - and the smaller eastern wing will be a seminar room. The practice will also expand the social space within the 5750m2 scheme, and aims to provide for low-energy elements with flexibility for future use. Construction begins on the eastern wing next summer with completion in 2002.

For the project, McAslan adapted an aid to planning he is using on the practice's Peter Jones project in Sloane Square. He has created a colour- coded 'matrix' with elements of the scheme up one axis and the consultees along the other. Where they meet he notes the reaction of the consultee, and the darker it is the more they oppose the scheme. This acts as a quick way of monitoring the more contentious elements of the scheme.

Other parts of the process have not been as smooth, however. McAslan is critical of the Twentieth Century Society's 'inconsistent' approach, compared to the 'more strategic' views of English Heritage.

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