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AJ SPECIFICATION CASE STUDY

Classical proportions: Wilkins Terrace at UCL by Levitt Bernstein

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A monumental brick and stone facade pays homage to its Grade I-listed neighbours. Photography by Ben Blossom

Wilkins Terrace provides a unique and high-quality space hidden within University College London’s urban estate, comprising generous public realm and striking built form. Created by enclosing an existing service yard, the new space is conceived as an accessible, stone-paved, split-level terrace, with the lower level serving the Lower Refectory.

The terrace is sculpturally carved out of Portland stone, a sustainable and durable material that also makes up UCL’s Grade I-listed Wilkins Building. A new ‘fourth façade’ completes the composition, working in harmony with the surrounding buildings. Designed to Classical proportions, this also conceals the myriad services required for the wider UCL campus and the new Lower Refectory, designed by Burwell Deakins.

Photos case index

Photos case index

New planting, including large pleached trees and climbing wisteria, complements and provides a softening frontage to the built form. A number of edible species are included to allow staff and students to further interact with the new space.

The terrace opens up a new east-west route to improve accessibility across the campus, in particular to the Bloomsbury Theatre and New Student Centre, which is due for completion in late 2018.

Wilkins Terrace will be used as a backdrop for university functions and student gatherings, creating an invaluable events resource and social space for the entire academic community.

Matthew Goulcher, managing director, Levitt Bernstein

Wt section

Wt section

Terrace plan

Terrace plan

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Photos case2 3

Specification statement

The materials palette for Wilkins Terrace is informed by the adjacent Grade I-listed Georgian Wilkins Building: Portland stone, London stock brick and painted steel metalwork with bronze features.

However, we have been creative with the specification of the stone, which is available in many varieties with different characteristics, from very consistent and smooth to open-textured with an abundance of fossils. We selected four types to highlight particular geometries and to achieve a sculptural quality across the space. Integrated lighting enhances many of the stone features within the façade and terrace. 

Facade axo

Facade axo

Staircase axo

Staircase axo

The London stock brick on the fourth façade, made to imperial dimensions, has been carefully matched to the colour of the two adjacent elevations. The balustrading is simple black-painted steel with a bronze rectangular-section handrail, and the stair treads have matching bronze inlaid strips to address contrast requirements set out in Building Regulations Part M. The planting is designed and specified to engage the student community and create a backdrop to the striking architecture. Classically shaped native pleached trees and fruiting espaliers soften the built form, while climbing white wisterias trail along canopy structures to provide shade to seating clusters.

Matthew Goulcher, managing director, Levitt Bernstein

Photos case2 1

Photos case2 1

Project data

Start on site June 2015 
Completion August 2017
Form of contract Design and Build
Construction cost £9.3 million
Architect Levitt Bernstein
Client University College London
Structural engineer Curtins
M&E consultant BDP
QS cost consultant Potter Raper Partnership
Project manager WSP
CDM co-ordinator Faithful+Gould
Main contractor Balfour Beatty

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