SOAS North Block. Senate House

Let there be light

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Project Overview

Client School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Project Value £17.3m
Expertise Building
Sector Education
Timeline June 2014 - August 2016
Location England - South and Midlands
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Project summary

Praised as “an exciting blend of classical and modern”, the £17.3m redevelopment of the North Block at the iconic Senate House has extended the School of Oriental and African Studies’ (SOAS) central London campus and created a stunning focal point – a unique double curvature, freestanding glass roofed atrium over a multi-purpose courtyard.

A Grade II* listed building of great architectural significance, Senate House remained fully operational throughout our 26-month design and construction programme that was completed in two distinct phases, namely: the delivery of a new central 500m2 atria, and the refurbishment of five floors of the North Block, equating to a GIFA of 7062m.

The detail

The construction of an architecturally-ambitious glass roofed atrium between the existing Grade II* listed buildings is the showpiece of this complex transformation project. Taking six months to complete, the glass roof structure has created a beautiful interior that facilitates both formal and informal teaching and learning. It is not only a prism for natural light, it also promotes natural ventilation that helps keep running costs and energy consumption low.

Moreover, rainwater is collected from the roof, stored and reused within the building thanks to a 14,000-litre harvester – a system that has only been retrofitted into a handful of listed buildings. Incredibly, 4,000 tonnes of spoil, or two filled Olympic sized swimming pools, were excavated to produce the double height space that provides an additional 1,000m2 for the new Student Hub area. In addition, 7,000 m2 of high quality accommodation over five floors within the North Block were refurbished, delivering a mixture of teaching facilities, study areas, academic areas and open plan space.

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"The project was technically challenging due to the need to build the new structures within an existing courtyard and the self-imposed timeline that would allow the building to be opened at the start of our centenary year. The finished building is an exciting blend of classical and modern, which is already receiving praise from the academic and student communities,"

Keith Jennings, Project Manager at SOAS, University of London