• Architecture
  • Education

School of Management, UCL,
Tower Hamlets



Project Details:

Creating a university satellite in the iconic One Canada Square building.

Client: University College London

Construction Value: £3.9m

Completion: 2016

Location: Tower Hamlets


  • BCO Awards 2017, Best Fit Out of Workplace: Finalist
  • New London Awards 2017, Workplaces: Shortlisted

Images: Ben Blossom

Education space
Workspace (office)
Access for all
Post-occupancy evaluation
Low energy use
Health and wellbeing

Where we started

When UCL’s School of Management decided to consolidate and relocate their facilities, they looked first to their home on the Bloomsbury campus. However, it quickly became apparent that the spaces available did not meet their aspirations. The idea of moving to Canary Wharf was suggested, and considering the excellent business links within the area, a deal was quickly struck for the 38th floor of One Canada Square. We were then tasked with creating a whole university satellite, complete with academic and pastoral services.

With this new location came the opportunity to express a more distinct identity – an important step in establishing the School’s global profile and attracting the best academic talent – and so we worked closely with brand consultants Studio Blackburn throughout the design process.

More intimate spaces throughout can be used for socialising and group meetings

Creating a university satellite meant we needed to design administrative and social spaces, as well as those for teaching and research

The School of Management felt an affinity to the Canary Wharf area due to its status as a business hub

By using broken geometries across the whole floorplate we've created informal spaces and shared breakout areas which allow for serendipitous meetings between students and faculty, with the aim of sparking unexpected conversations and shared creative thinking.

Matthew Goulcher, Managing Director

Through angular geometries, even corridors are designed to encourage spontaneous interaction

The School feels a particular synergy with the Canary Wharf community – its business focus providing an inspiration and opportunity for students to engage with the corporate world. With this is mind, we needed to create a space where business meets academia – breaking down corporate norms to provide a stimulating learning environment. The School’s Director, Bert De Reyck, drew up a wish list and we worked closely with his team and UCL’s estates department to establish their priorities and expectations.


Our design concept was inspired by an early conversation with the client group, where we discussed the idea of dividing the space into distinct zones serving the different aspects of the School’s work. These were nicknamed ‘villages’; offices and meeting spaces arranged around a central shared space that became known as the ‘village green’. These six villages are distributed around the edge of the floorplate, each defined by a particular colour and texture through the lighting, flooring and graphics to create sub-identities and assist with orientation.

Sketch of our 'village' concept for the spatial organisation

This is a 'village green' which is a central shared space within each of the six villages

The circulation between villages is key – it is as much a social space as a route connecting them. We wanted to encourage interaction at every opportunity to create a truly convivial environment, which manifested itself through a deliberate breaking of the geometry to create a number of incidental and informal spaces.

Broken geometries are used across the floorplan to create incidental spaces and encourage interaction

More than just providing the highest quality facilities in an operational sense, our new home in One Canada Square reflects our strong focus on innovation, technology, analytics and entrepreneurship, with communication and collaboration encouraged at every turn.

Bert De Reyck, Director, School of Management, UCL

A hub space welcomes students on arrival and features informal seating to create a meeting place away from the villages. Two ‘Harvard-style’ lecture theatres sit either side of this and their intimate semi-circular format and tiered seating encourages interaction and discussion. Breakout niches are also integrated into the window bays at the rear to allow smaller group working. Throughout, materials, colour and texture have been used to clearly define space and to a level of sophistication that reflects the School’s aspirations.

Harvard-style lecture theatres facilitate debate by bringing everyone closer to the lecturer

Lecture theatres have smaller breakout spaces for group work

Texture and colour are used throughout to create visual interest