Date posted: November 25, 2016
We were recently shortlisted in the design competition for a new Learning and Creative Design Centre for London South Bank University. Our proposals were developed from two clear starting points. Firstly, the importance of the public realm in expressing the civic role of the London South Bank University within the city. Secondly, the further evolution of a theme that we have previously explored; the creation of a richly varied learning landscape, which places student experience at its heart.
’University Square’ creates a shared territory, a landscaped threshold between the wider city with the the noise of London Road and the University campus. A threshold space articulated with access and views into the surrounding buildings, which provides a place for people to pause, socialise, perhaps stopping for a coffee at the Learning Centre café. ’Clarence Court’ between the new building and the LSBU Enterprise Centre, provides a distinctly different type of external space, more private, more overtly informed by and interacting with the surrounding University functions such as lecture theatres, design studios and the Innovation Centre, creating a destination for changing events and activities such as a farmer’s market, sculpture exhibition or outdoor cinema.
Within the Learning Centre, rather than the print dominating the floorspace, books are housed in the bookbot, an automated search and retrieval system which dramatically reduces the footprint for bookstacks, liberating space for people. This allows students to enjoy a rich and diverse range of learning, study and social environments. These are connected with a circulation route that changes its character as it progresses up through the building, providing opportunities for spontaneous interaction, a break from study, exercise, and the chance to take in great views out across the city.
The provision of a multiplicity of environments responds to the individual’s desire to choose which kind of space they want to occupy, from silent study through to more noisy collaborative or group study spaces, from sunny and bright to cosy and dark, dependant on the task in hand. Circulation is an animated journey connecting these spaces, responding to the physiological need for a level of physical activity and sensual stimulation to facilitate concentration over a long period. The impact of colour, air quality, daylight, views and contact with nature are all aspects of our proposals which extend the functionality of a building beyond its stated use, to embrace the health and well being of all building users.