St Mary's University Reception Refurbishment

Useful Studio, Twickenham, 2016


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Jill Tate (website)     Download Original

  • Site Plan    
  • Proposed Floor Plan    
  • Cross Section    
  • Cross Section    
  • Cross Section    
  • Existing Floor Plan and Scope of Project    
  • Detail, wall cladding and integrated bench    
  • Detail, Elevation of integrated bench    

Refurbishment of a university reception to include a complete strip-out to expose original brick and stone features and a new entrance lobby, built in furniture and new finishes.

The refurbishment of a reception fit-out and insertion of a new lobby within an existing infill building on the university campus in Strawberry Hill.

The area acts as the main campus reception as well as providing access into the teaching and administration block beyond. The university has a new leadership team and an ambitious growth plan over the next decade. It was important that the project reflect this while respecting the rich building heritage on campus and embracing the catholic ethos and mission of the institution.

The refurbishment is modest and timeless using natural materials to add colour, texture and warmth. By exposing the external brick wall of the adjacent wing, we uncovered an original window and stone framing which became a key feature in the space.

The integrated oiled oak panelling and bench are multi-functional: providing a social gathering space and pause point, providing furniture that minimises its impact on what is a narrow and active space, and cloaking the lower portion of the exposed wall and servicing to provide a high quality contemporary wainscot.

Removing clutter and paring back the furnishing and fittings has opened a long view of the courtyard garden beyond. The lighting pendants suspend from the ceiling helping to lower the ceiling proportions, drawing the eye away from the original soffit and skylight, and providing a more intimate space.

The project has been an exercise in striking the right balance. Rather than removing or replacing the original skylight we chose to keep this and carry out the minimum of redecoration which enabled the budget to be focused on areas within reach and immediate sight.

An important function of a university reception is signage and general display of information. We designed key locations for this display to ensure clarity and natural wayfinding while also ensuring a level of control and consistency.


  • Begun: Jul 2016
  • Completed: Sep 2016
  • Floor area: 100m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £170,000
  • Funding: University Estate
  • Tender date: Jun 2016
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works D+B
  • Address: St Mary's University, Twickenham, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4SX, United Kingdom

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