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FIRST LOOK

Bennetts completes Royal College of Pathologists HQ in Aldgate

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The 4,500m² purpose-built building steps back at sixth-floor level to provide panoramic views over London

The Royal College of Pathologists decided to relocate its headquarters to a new site in Aldgate to fulfil its need for more space for its 11,500 members. Designed to accommodate the college’s changing requirements, the new building provides flexible educational workspace, social spaces, and meeting and working areas for visiting members.

The easily adaptable event spaces accommodate large conferences, dinners, receptions and exhibitions, helping the organisation to host guests from the UK and abroad. The large double-height reception can be used for hosting public exhibitions and events, while the full-height windows at ground-floor level create transparency and a sense of openness.

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists (c) peter cook (1)

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists (c) peter cook (1)

Due to its depth, the site proved tricky – Bennetts conducted various feasibility studies looking at re-appropriating the existing building before deciding to build new. The college’s requirements for large gathering spaces, conference facilities and room to expand didn’t work with the existing column grids.

Using materials and artefacts to reflect the college’s character, as well as designing to be durable, the building features a consistent palette of materials. Coffered concrete slabs help create the maximum sense of height within the spaces with the use of creative lighting, while integrating structure and services.

Bennetts reused the existing foundations, meaning that the structural frame needed to be lighter, and a lot of care went into detailing the concrete. The use of substitute aggregates in the cement mix and waffle slabs means that the concrete floors are able to work more efficiently, forming the main part of the building’s passive cooling strategy. 

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists (c) peter cook (13)

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists (c) peter cook (13)

Brickwork cladding and statement perforated brick internal walls unify the spaces, contrasting with the shuttered concrete soffits. The mild steel staircases create a visual link between public floors and complement the walnut timber panelling. Lecture plinths have been made out of reclaimed beech from the college’s previous headquarters.

Bennetts Associates had restored the interiors of the Royal College of Pathologists’ previous Grade I-listed headquarters in St James in 1993 and in 2003 completed a new education centre within the previously unused basement.

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists g floor plan line

Bennetts associates royal college of pathologists g floor plan line

Project data

Start on site January 2017
Completion December 2018
Gross internal floor area 3,094m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 4,500m²
Form of contract or procurement route Two stage design & build
Construction cost £16.9 million
Construction cost per m² £3,750
Architect Bennetts Associates
Client Royal College of Pathologists
Structural engineer Waterman Group
M&E consultant Troup, Bywaters and Anders
QS Equals Consulting
Project manager CBRE
Acoustic consultant Sandy Brown Associates
Lighting consultant Pritchard Themis
Fire consultant The Fire Surgery
Main contractor Gilbert Ash
CAD software used Revit
Annual CO2 emissions 40.65 kg/m²

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