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London Met reveals plans for controversial new home for Cass

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London Metropolitan University (LMU) has unveiled the proposed masterplan by Design Engine Architects for its campus consolidation in Islington

Controversially, the plan includes a new home for the university’s Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design which, despite protests from students and staff, will move to the Holloway Road campus from its current Aldgate base.

The architecture department had relocated to Aldgate in 2012, having been based in Holloway since 1896.

In January, architecture diploma students at the Cass wrote to the school’s board of governors threatening to quit the institution unless they were allowed to stay in their East End home dubbed the ‘Aldgate Bauhaus’. Architects David Chipperfield and Richard Rogers were among those who also voiced concerns over the move.

However the university confirmed the sale of the Central House building in Aldgate in February.

The £125 million One Campus, One Community project aims to bring all of LMU’s facilities together on one site in North London. The masterplan proposes giving members of the public right of way through the campus, by linking it with surrounding streets and existing university buildings such Daniel Libeskind’s graduate centre.

East elevation of Daniel Libeskind's LMU Graduate Centre in Holloway Road

East elevation of Daniel Libeskind’s LMU Graduate Centre in Holloway Road

Source: BitterBredt

East elevation of Daniel Libeskind’s existing LMU Graduate Centre in Holloway Road

It will open up the current campus to the community through the creation of a central courtyard, which will be surrounded by a café, theatre and performance spaces. Modern teaching and specialist facilities for academic departments will encircle this courtyard.

Some low-rise buildings will be stripped away and the retained buildings opened up to allow student facilities to be more visible.

John Ridgett, director of Design Engine, said consultation revealed a common theme from staff and students of ‘reaching out and inviting’.

‘The proposals have sought to better locate space across the campus to provide hubs of specialist facilities as well as a more legible environment,’ he said. ‘As part of the better connection into the urban realm it is proposed to make the campus far more permeable.

‘Part of this strategy is the creation of a significant new central courtyard open to the public. The scheme works with the current buildings surrounding this central courtyard to extend and repurpose them as well as opening them up to create a new and varied street frontage. In doing so it provides the opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work that takes place at the university.’

Andrew Stone, acting dean of the Cass, said the focus on ‘re-energising the university’s relationship with Holloway Road’ was appropriate. ‘The importance of the university’s civic presence and the means by which the buildings and the activities within them offers something back to the city, back to its community, is vital,’ he said. ‘This was really emphasised at the crit with Design Engine at the Cass, and I’m pleased to see this reflected in the masterplan.

‘We’re now looking forward to continuing this collaborative approach and having more involvement in the development of the detailed proposals for the Cass’s new home in Islington.’

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