• Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Education

Wilkins Terrace,
Camden

Info

Project Details:

Defining a new focal point for UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.

Client: University College London

Construction Value: £9.3m

Completion: 2017

Location: Camden

Awards:

  • RIBA Awards 2018, London: Shortlisted
  • New London Awards 2014, Education: Shortlisted

Images: Ben Blossom

People

Despite the scale of UCL’s estate in Bloomsbury, they lacked good quality collegiate external space. Through their masterplan, an opportunity was identified to create a new courtyard terrace above an existing service yard and provide a new high quality landscape space for both staff and students.

The lower terrace extends the refectory and offers social and study spaces for students

The Wilkins Terrace does something no other space on the campus does – providing a destination that wants to be occupied.

Matthew Goulcher, Managing Director

The terrace is overlooked by a number of important buildings at UCL and is a critical access point

Stepped planters, pleached trees and canopy structures for vines create informal seating areas

The existing service yard had become unsightly with single story buildings, skips and containers added over time. It was also overtly overlooked by a number of important university buildings. Our challenge was to connect these disparate elements with one cohesive design solution – all the more problematic considering the Wilkins Building is Grade I listed. Quite apart from the creation of the new terrace, there were a number of practical issues to be solved: providing good access and maintaining building services to the surrounding buildings.

The project wasn’t linked to a particular department or school – indeed it was one for the entire university: its students, staff and visitors and needed to be embraced as such. Everyone was keen to be involved and so a steering group was established with stakeholder representatives from the whole university.

Before: The existing service yard was not providing any amenity space for students or staff

Design

We developed the idea of enclosing the services yard as an undercroft, allowing the external space above to form new amenity for a variety of uses. This is conceived as a contemporary, high quality, stone landscaped terrace set within the historic courtyard. The terrace itself is split level with the lower space serving the new Lower Refectory, which is linked by a new lift and grand staircase.

Sectional perspective showing new terrace above existing service yard and relationship to surrounding buildings

The terrace is sculpturally carved out of Portland stone, a sustainable and durable material that also makes up UCL’s Grade I listed Wilkins Building. A new ‘fourth façade’ completes the composition, working in harmony with the surrounding buildings. Designed to classical proportions, this also conceals the myriad services required for the wider campus and new Lower Refectory.

Exploded axonometric drawing showing the terrace in context

The 'fourth façade' to the east completes the classical courtyard and reflects classical Georgian proportions

New classical planting, including large pleached trees and climbing wisteria, complements and provides a softening frontage to the built form. A number of edible species also allow staff and students to further interact with the new space, be it through flowers, herbs or fruit trees.

The terrace opens up a new east-west route to improve accessibility across the campus, in particular to the Bloomsbury Theatre and New Student Centre, which is due for completion in late 2018.

Core team

Matthew Goulcher

Managing Director

Barry McCullough

Director

Kate Digney

Associate Director, Head of Landscape

Mark Lewis

Associate Director

Tony Hall

Technical Design Director

Eleanor Mayfield

Senior Architect

Paul Martin

Senior Architect

Ben Monteagle

Senior Architect

Joseph Charman

Architectural Assistant

Dominic Patel

Architectural Visualiser