UCL Student Centre wins global architectural prize

A global panel of judges awarded the centre the ‘Special prize Interior’ of the Campuses awards category.

The Student Centre was designed by UCL alumnus and lead architect James Eades, of Nicholas Hare Architects.

The Prix recognizes remarkable structures around the world, in terms of both interior and exterior architecture.

Other shortlisted entries included the University of Melbourne’s Life Sciences Building, Nankai University’s Haibing Centre, the National University of Singapore’s School of Design & Environment and Yale University’s new Science Building.

At the heart of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus, the Student Centre includes 1,000 study spaces over eight levels as well as a rooftop terrace, a café and a landscaped courtyard.

It was designed to offer space for UCL’s students to think, explore, collaborate, discover and challenge.

In revealing the prize winners, Prix Versailles Secretary General Jérôme Gouadain emphasized the fact that all the buildings embraced a sustainable approach.

UCL has one of the greenest student centres in the UK. Just a few months after opening, the centre achieved a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Outstanding’ rating, reflecting exceptional environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.

Much of its structure is recycled, using GGBS concrete and recycled aggregates. The building fabric is also highly efficient, helping to regulate temperature and minimise energy use. Other sustainability features include ground-source heat pumps, natural ventilation features, solar panels and a roof garden.

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs), thanked Prix Versailles for the honour, adding: “After a difficult time for everyone, it’s great to end the year with this wonderful news. It reminds me of the fantastic team who designed, built and now run the Student Centre and of course our students who so enjoy using the building.”

James Eades, a graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL, added: “This award is a testament to tremendous teamwork and commitment and the vision of an inspiring client. We are thrilled.”

The centre has won a 11 awards since it opened, including a Civic Trust 2020 award, the Higher Education Project prize at the 2019 Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards, the Building Performance prize in the 2019 Building Awards and the Judges’ Inspiration prize at the 2019 Institute of Civil Engineering Awards.

The Student Centre forms a key part of Transforming UCL, a £1.25 billion ten-year programme of investment in UCL’s estate across London to support the university’s growth.