WilkinsonEyre has radically transformed London South Bank University’s (LSBU) London Road building to create an open and inviting centrepiece for its main Southwark campus. The newly named LSBU Hub was officially opened last week by the first Vice Chancellor of the university, Baroness Perry of Southwark, who commented that the building was only eleven years old when she first arrived and already problematic in terms of circulation and thermal performance. Conceived as an inclusive hub for the University, the extensive refurbishment and redesign brings together a library, lecture theatres, fitness facilities, teaching rooms, informal learning spaces, and catering amenities to support students and staff, as well providing services for the local community.
Located north of Elephant and Castle, the existing 1970s concrete-framed building is the largest academic building on LSBU’s main campus, providing approximately 20% of the University’s total teaching and learning space. An initial feasibility study undertaken by the practice in 2018 identified the negative impact of the blank external façades, warren-like interiors, and poor accessibility provisions, were having upon the building’s users. The university identified the need to allow the building to work in a communal, cooperative, and collaborative way while retaining the key large volumes of the building on the constricted site. Through adaptive re-use, WilkinsonEyre has resolved these issues, opening up the 20,466m2 space to improve and enhance user experience while future-proofing the building for years to come. The building has achieved BREEAM Very Good Rating.
The major makeover includes the extensive internal reconfiguration of the existing sports and catering facilities and the refurbishment of seven retained lecture theatres, film studios and cinema space. The building also incorporates LSBU’s relocated library, the University archive, small group room spaces, high-tech teaching spaces, computer labs with quiet and silent study areas, as well as staff offices.
The existing structure was largely retained, saving 65% on embodied carbon which is just under half of the 2030 RIBA benchmark targets, and incorporates carbon fibre strengthening in areas where it needed further reinforcement. The existing blank tiled façade has been overclad with insulation and brick to increase thermal performance and upgrade its appearance.
Nat Keast, Associate of WilkinsonEyre, said: “Our design for the LSBU Hub demonstrates how a building that was having such a negative impact on the campus can be totally transformed to meet 21st century standards, extending its design life significantly while minimising the building’s embodied carbon. We hope that the students and local community will enjoy this revitalised building for years to come.