Transforming a central London library in to a contemporary student hub

Date posted: November 23, 2016

LSE LIFE is a new academic, personal and professional development centre housed within LSE Library, and is the latest in a programme of works delivered by ArchitecturePLB for the School. We were tasked with developing a design that provided a mix of social, quiet and collaborative areas, which reflect new ways of learning and approaches to education.

The centre is the place to go for all undergraduate and taught master’s students for both academic and pastoral support, guidance and ideas about how to succeed in studies and extend students’ learning and discovery outside of the classroom.

The LIFE centre is located in the library, with which it shares common activities and needs. It needed to be clearly visible and work seamlessly with the library and its staff. Spaces are designed so that their use is suggested, not prescribed – it’s about the students adapting the space ad-hoc to suit their needs, not giving them a set experience which they could choose (or not) to inhabit.

Display walls add colour, texture and robustness to the spaces and allow students and staff to pin up where they choose; extensive storage walls, which allow chairs to be stacked out of sight when not in lecture mode, also double as writable surfaces. Furniture is movable, designed to allow the students to reconfigure with ease – the triangular desks are versatile in shape and easy to move, optimal for accommodating a laptop and notebook whilst ensuring maximum efficiency.

LSE LIFE has also been awarded a silver rating under the new SKA for Higher Education environmental assessment scheme – an industry first.

“Transforming 20,000 sq ft into an entirely flexible space and ‘one stop shop’ for students was a big task. The main objective of the project – the first of its kind – was to design and build a facility that would assert our presence and showcase LSE LIFE.” Dr Neil Mclean, LSE Academic and Professional Development Division

Photography © Overbury 2016.