UCL Engineering


UCL colleagues come together to celebrate the opening of PEARL

25 October 2022

Teams from across UCL were joined by funders and supporters to mark the official opening of the new state of the art research facility in East London.

The exterior of UCL PEARL

Colleagues from across UCL came together on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of PEARL, UCL’s newest research facility, designed to offer state of the art technologies for exploring the ways in which people interact with their environment. The building provides a unique place in which real-scale spaces, such as transport facilities, town centres and the built environment can be recreated, redesigned and reimagined, as more accessible, sustainable and inclusive spaces.

PEARL builds on the success of its predecessor PAMELA, UCL’s groundbreaking research facility for transport studies, providing greater scale and depth for research into people, transport and public spaces. Pearl will become part of UCL’s Centre for Transport Studies and form part of the UKRI-funded Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities. It will bring together researchers from across UCL to develop cross-disciplinary insight into how people interact with their environment, and how we can develop infrastructure that is fit for the future.

Professor Nigel Titchener Hooker, Dean of UCL Engineering, said: “I’m delighted to announce the launch of PEARL. This is a wonderful research instrument and I want to thank all of the teams who have worked so hard on the project. PEARL is a realisation of our values from the ground up – it puts trans-disciplinary collaboration at the heart of our research and education, and provides a new space for community involvement and codesign at UCL. The building itself is UCL’s first net zero carbon building and demonstrates our commitment to sustainability. It will be a flagship for engineering innovation for UCL to be proud of and an exemplar of our vison seen globally.”

Professor Michael Spence, UCL President and Provost, said: “The official opening of PEARL underscores UCLs commitment to ensuring that our staff, partners, and local community have access to state of the art facilities to meet the engineering and human challenges of the future. PEARL will act as a showcase for and facilitator of UCL Engineering’s world leading research and our position in the heart of the Dagenham regeneration zone allows us to build on our continuing mission to be London’s Global University.”

PEARL’s director, Professor Nick Tyler, said “PEARL gives us the opportunity to pioneer new technologies and develop new insights that will inform our understanding of how people relate to the world around them, and shape our communities. From developing new autonomous vehicles and improving pedestrian safety to building more resilient public transport systems, the work at PEARL will be at the forefront of building more equitable and inclusive spaces for people.”

PEARL is UCL’s first net-zero carbon building, with innovative technology including solar panels and passive heating and cooling design that will mean the carbon generation involved in the construction process is offset within its first few years of operation. It will bring together workshops, research space, meeting space and a public gallery, and was awarded BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ status for its environmental impact.

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  • Credit: Penoyre & Prasad