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AJ Architecture Awards 2019 winner: Higher Education

The Student Centre, UCL by Nicholas Hare Architects has won the Higher Education Project prize at the 2019 AJ Architecture Awards 

The judges praised this project for successfully creating a set of spaces that really flowed. ‘It is clever to make a university building part of the city,’ they said. ‘And, in the process, the architects have created some extraordinary spaces which can be used 24/7 and by all.’  They felt the practice had ‘squeezed every opportunity’ out of a difficult site and on each floor.

The project consists of a new student centre for UCL’s Bloomsbury site, creating a gateway into the campus as well as providing diverse support spaces for students and members of the public, including individual and collaborative study rooms, a student enquiries centre, a café, contemplation rooms and an exhibition space. 

The building is certified BREEAM Outstanding, with a sustainability strategy that adopts a passive-first approach. A minimum three years of post-occupancy evaluation is being undertaken. 

High-quality and durable materials, including 50 per cent GGBS concrete with 35 per cent recycled aggregates, have been used throughout. In conjunction with what the judges described as an ‘impeccable’ build quality, it is hoped that the ‘warm but robust palette of materials’ will reduce maintenance and extend the building’s life cycle. One judge said the careful choice of materials made the building feel like it ‘really belonged to UCL’.  

Shortlist

  • Bayes Centre by Bennetts Associates
  • Pablo Fanque House by Carson and Partners
  • New Graduate Housing, Churchill College by Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture
  • The Aga Khan Centre by Maki and Associates with Allies and Morrison
  • Whitehorn Hall and Powell Hall by HLM Architects 
  • The Dorothy Garrod Building, Newnham College by Walters & Cohen Architects

Judges

  • Clare Goggin, partner, Jackson Coles
  • Justin Nicholls, partner, Fathom Architects
  • Robin Nicholson, partner, Cullinan Studio
  • Mark Rowe, partner, Penoyre & Prasad

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