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UCL wins planning for £9.3m overhaul

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Levitt Bernstein and Burwell Deakins have won planning to transform a refectory and service yard at UCL into a new social space

The £9.3 million redevelopment project is set to transform the university’s grade I-listed Wilkins Building.

Burwell Deakins Architects has worked on the remodelling of the Wilkins Lower Refectory while Levitt Bernstein has produced the proposals to transform the adjacent yard into a new courtyard and terrace.

The revamped refectory will provide dining and café space connected to the new Wilkins Terrace, formed at the level above, to accommodate a range of formal and informal uses and providing a new east west link across the UCL campus.

Andrew Grainger, director of UCL estates, said: ‘The Wilkins Terrace and Lower Refectory projects will seamlessly join the central campus together, allowing for an essential new link through to Gordon Street. The area to be developed into the Wilkins Terrace is an underused courtyard known as the ‘Physics Yard’ in the centre of our historic campus.

‘This project will transform the space into stunning social events and amenities space and a huge enhancement of the public realm within the UCL campus. The existing refectory will be completely transformed to create a contemporary facility in its fine historical context while improving infrastructure, increasing amenities and improving usability.’

Construction on the project is set to start in December 2014.

Project data

Type of project grade I-listed university refurbishment
Client University College London
Architect Wilkins Lower Refectory – Burwell Deakins Architects, Wilkins Terrace – Levitt Bernstein
Planning consultant Deloitte & Alan Baxter Associates
Landscape consultant Levitt Bernstein Landscape Architecture
Structural and civil engineer Curtins Consulting
M&E consultant BDP
Quantity surveyor Potter Raper Partnership
CDM coordinator Faithful and Gould
Lighting consultant BDP
Main contractor TBC
Funding University College of London
Tender date June/July 2014
Start on site date early 2015
Completion date spring term 2016
Contract duration 12 months (excluding enabling works)
Gross internal floor area 1,585m²
Form of contract and/or procurement GC Works 1 (Single Stage Design and Build)
Total cost TBC
Specific environmental targets BREEAM Very Good

Wilkins Terrace by Levitt Bernstein

The architect’s view: Wilkins Terrace

Wilkins Terrace by Levitt Bernstein

Wilkins Terrace by Levitt Bernstein

The former service yard was previously unloved and disconnected from the rest of the campus, so the design endeavours to create an entirely unique space which is also connected to those around it in a usable way, thereby strengthening pedestrian links through the campus as a whole. Students and staff members will be drawn through the buildings to ‘discover’ the unique courtyard spaces within.

Three new ‘doorways’ will be formed through the courtyard to create this pedestrian link, sensitively incorporated by using the existing shapes of the listed windows of the adjacent North Cloister. A new lift and dual stairway access also allows the upper terrace to be accessed from the seating area below which leads through a colonnade to the Lower Refectory.

The new terrace and facade do not directly touch the grade I-listed Wilkins or Physics Buildings, with a light bridge connection at the Bloomsbury Theatre and 1960’s Donaldson extension. Wilkins Terrace forms a largely free-standing object within the space with its own architectural identity inspired by the materials and geometries of its context.

The Lower Terrace will form a striking outlook from the main refectory dining space, increasing the refectory’s seating capacity and providing further opportunity for attractive and ecologically beneficial planting.

The architect’s view: The Lower Wilkins Refectory

Burwell Deakins' lower refectory proposals

Burwell Deakins’ lower refectory proposals

The Lower Refectory will occupy a key location between the new Wilkins Terrace and the Japanese Garden. Within the total reorganisation of the space, the Refectory Dining Hall will be relocated to the heart of the Wilkins Building to inhabit the original double height arched space, whilst the new servery and back-of-house support facilities will be moved to the less grand secondary spaces below the Bloomsbury Theatre and new Wilkins Terrace.

The existing ceiling and interstitial services gantry above, will be removed allowing the arches and clerestory windows to be exposed again, re-establishing double height daylighting to both sides of the dining hall, providing UCL with a grand collegiate dining facility within the Central Bloomsbury Campus.

In order to improve the connection between the North and South Refectory facades, the glazing to both is going to be restored with additional entrance doors added. The main entrance to the servery will improve upon the existing arrangement, providing a grander entrance accessible for all. Fixed banquette seats aligned with the existing arched structure will present defined spaces within the dining hall linked with a huge, dramatic circular light installation. The East and West ends of the dining hall will have more intimate seating areas and a coffee bar with lowered acoustic timber ceilings creating privacy and a variety of experience.

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