Hall McKnight has won planning permission for a scaled-down version of controversial plans to improve teaching space at Kings College’s Strand campus in London
In 2015, following a public outcry, the college withdrew an initial 4,400m² proposal by the practice which would have seen a row of historic buildings on the Strand flattened to make way for a new tower block.
But now, plans have been approved for a scheme that will see the refurbishment of the 1950s underground Quadrangle Building as well as improvements to quadrangle courtyard above.
A report by planning officers at London Borough of Westminster said: ‘The renovation and refurbishment of the Quadrangle building is welcome and does not raise any significant design or listed building issues.’
The existing building was constructed in the 1950s following severe bomb damage to the site during World War II.
Some original arches which were embedded during this work will be lost under the new scheme, but planners said that this would be outweighed by the renovation and opening up of other, authentic arches.
The works also includes balustrade treatments and replacement steps on the King’s Building which sits above ground on the courtyard, plus a new surface treatment including a central oculus.
The building’s façade will be refurbished to improve thermal performance and improve daylight.
The proposed Quadrangle deck will be finished with bound gravel with flush patinated brass or bronze plate inlays.
A planning statement submitted with the application said the scheme ‘provides a high quality, visually enhanced setting suitable for the Strand conservation area and nearby listed buildings’.
In its response to the council’s consultation on the new plan, the Westminster Society said it ‘regards these proposals as well prepared and should provide a major improvement to the facilities offered by King’s College.
‘The society is happy to lend its support to them and recommends that they be approved.’
Hall McKnight won the competition to redevelop the Quadrangle in 2012, beating off competition from Estudio Barozzi Veiga; Estudio Carme Pinos with Soto-Lay Architects; Eric Parry Architects; Henley Halebrown Rorrison and Zaha Hadid Architects.
However, the project grew considerably as it developed, controversially taking in the historic terrace and adding an extension to the 1972 Strand Building.
The designs proved highly controversial, provoking a backlash from conservation groups such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Victorian Society.
In a frank letter to The Times, Historic England’s planning and conservation director Nigel Barker, admitted that it had made a mistake by raising no objections to that scheme.