As the rate of technological change in the world speeds up, the relationship between people and things, between things and the environment and so between different academic disciplines becomes more and more complex. UCL is pioneering this change and nowhere is this more evident than the brand new campus being developed on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: UCL East. The campus itself will link into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Cultural and Education Quarter, the educational and cultural quarter of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with the V&A, University of the Arts and Sadler’s Wells all set to have sites next door.
Paola Lettieri, Academic Director of UCL East and Professor of Chemical Engineering, says that UCL East will be not just new space, but a new way to think about what a university can, and should be. “The vision for UCL East is to be inclusive, world class, outward-looking, progressive, creative, transformational and, true to our UCL DNA, quirky,” she says. “Academics have been involved, from the bottom up, in developing a university of the future based on interdisciplinarity, connections and collaboration. We are breaking down the barriers between research and teaching, academia and enterprise, faculty and the public.”
But perhaps what makes this campus truly unique is the ‘living’ strand of the project, which has resulted in a complete integration into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “The park will be integrated into the student experience,” says Professor Lettieri. “It will be a living laboratory where we can acquire data on water and road usage, for example; study people and their environment; study wildlife … involving students of environmental engineering, bioscience, anthropology and urban living.”
Physically, the campus will comprise two main sites, either side of the river: Pool Street, containing student accommodation and teaching facilities, and Marshgate, with teaching, research and public facilities – what Professor Lettieri calls a ‘fluid building’. “Academics, infrastructure experts and architects are working together to imagine how we can make it open and attractive and totally accessible.”
The government has provided funding of £100 million for UCL East because of its link to the wider regeneration of the area. In a tangible, physical way the new campus will invite the public in. And through public access to research, links to local schools and provision of foundation courses, UCL East will help shape London intellectually today – and for the next generation.