UCL at Here East

Hawkins\Brown, London, 2018


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

The façade is articulated with orange balconies 

Rory Gardiner and Tim Crocker     Download Original

  • The façade is articulated with orange balconies    
  •  Hawkins\Brown was appointed to retrofit the sheds    
  • Timber mixes with Bartlett yellow    
  • The accommodation at Here East addresses UCL’s specific programme requirements    
  • There is a specific focus on future-proofing and flexibility    
  • UCL at Here East combines several faculties that teach a variety of architectural, engineering and research courses    
  • Auditorium space    
  • There is a a focus on robust, hard-wearing and self-finished materials such as plywood and exposed concrete    
  • The machine area is roughly split into what is termed a ‘3D tracking, scanning and large fabrication space’    
  • Environmental chambers and structural testing rigs sit alongside robotic cells, fabrication equipment and studio space    
  • Site plan    
  • Exploded axonometric    
  • Ground floor and first floor plans    
  • Lecture theatre plan    
  • Section AA    
  • Long section BB    

The refit of the London 2012 Media Centre has created spaces where the UCL’s architecture, design and engineering students can exchange ideas.

Here East is an outpost for University College London’s new ‘digital campus’ in east London. The building is the legacy of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Main Press Centre (MPC) created by Allies and Morrison for the London 2012 Games at the western edge of the Olympic Park. Hawkins\Brown was appointed to retrofit these two sheds.

The Bartlett’s 6,200m2 outpost is a continuation of the school’s six-year journey with Hawkins\Brown, beginning with the light retrofit of Hampstead Road while the deep retrofit of 22 Gordon Street was under way. The school has moved in and out of buildings nine times in the past four years, but none has offered room for the vast fabrication and test lab space that sits at the heart of the Here East site, part of a crucial relationship with the Faculty of Engineering Sciences.

The relative slimness of the site in the context of the wider ‘shed’ is emphasised by its main organisational gesture, the ‘runway’, a circulatory strip that runs through the building and roughly aligns with the main entrance. The idea is to keep this front-to-back circulation, or at least visibility, as fluid as possible: a large set of sliding doors can open the auditorium out onto the studios at the front, and upper-level windows provide visibility into the large-scale fabrication space at the rear.

The 330-seat auditorium is clad with timber slats and plastic panels. Pitched as a reimagining of the auditorium typology, this essentially amounts to an arrangement of stepped and breakout areas that allow it to be used as one large auditorium or as several mini-lecture rooms or meeting spaces simultaneously. It is an effective mediator between the front and back-of-house spaces, animated by the movement of students along the runway, often with some section of architectural model in hand.

The machine area is roughly split into what is termed a ‘3D tracking, scanning and large fabrication space’ and a ‘cyclic environmental and mechanical multi-scale test lab’, but much of this equipment can be easily moved around using air skates, and temporary access barriers can be put in place to compartmentalise areas. Wrapped around this are smaller studio spaces for activities ranging from welding and wet trades to human-scale robotics, thermal studies and more ‘familiar’ architectural apparatus such as laser-cutting equipment.

The MEP services were zoned to reflect the differing accommodation types. Multiple items of specialist end-user equipment required interfaces with the building services, such as chilled water connections to environmental testing chambers. BuroHappold’s acoustics and fire engineering teams worked with Hawkins\Brown to provide the necessary protection and acoustic separation between the ‘clean’ and process spaces. This enabled these zones to work in close proximity while maintaining a visual connection.


  • Begun: Jul 2016
  • Completed: Feb 2018
  • Floor area: 6,200m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £10M
  • Address: Here East Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E15 2GW, United Kingdom

Professional Team

AJBL Sponsor

Armstrong World Industries

A global leader in providing customised, multi material ceiling and wall solutions

Find out more