UCL News


Vice-Provost's View: UCL East - imagining the future campus

4 June 2015

In taking on responsibility for leading the Academic Programme Board of UCL East, I have - not for the first time - been looking to UCL's founders for inspiration.


Nearly 200 years ago, they set about to challenge the conventional view of a university - and, through it, to disrupt profoundly the social status quo. Their vision has been the foundation for our development into one of the world's leading universities, committed to using our collective expertise to address global challenges.

The development of UCL East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) presents a rare opportunity to build on that vision, to explore it anew in the context of 21st-century London. We are intent that UCL East should offer a new kind of university environment, focused on the facilitation of collaboration, connection and open innovation with local and global communities. 

Below you can see a short flyover video of the UCL East location within the QEOP, which will give you some idea of the scale and potential of the new development.

UCL East will:

  • be a home for new UCL activities, not simply an extension of our Bloomsbury functions
  • serve as a model for the university campus of the future - open, dynamic and overcoming the conventional barriers between research, education, innovation, public engagement and collaboration
  • provide an outstanding environment for learning and scholarship for students, staff, collaborators and the public
  • liberate space and enable new opportunities in the Bloomsbury estate
  • as a founder member of 'Olympicopolis', play a central role in the sustainable development of the QEOP and East London's innovative quarter more generally
  • facilitate delivery of UCL 2034, the university's 20-year strategy.

To fulfil this vision over the next two centuries, the campus will also need to be configured so flexibly that it will be able to respond to changes that are beyond our current capacity to predict. Delivery of UCL East will require a changed mindset - dealing with the opportunities and challenges of the future campus rather than constraints and inefficiencies associated with our 200-year-old campus.

UCL East must provide a platform for future generations to reinvent not just our university, but the concept of what a university is.

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Many of the bids for space in UCL East are impressively creative and radical, and are becoming more so through the active dialogue to refine our ideas that we have been undertaking during recent months. While the activities proposed could fill UCL East many times over, and we have some challenging decisions to make in the coming months, as we gradually refine our programme of activity. Phase 1 of the development will focus on three or four 'anchor activities' exemplifying cross-disciplinarity, openness, innovation, engagement and collaboration. We anticipate that these will include areas such as participatory design, heritage and engineering.

Just as was the case for our founders, we are trying something new and difficult under public scrutiny. Just as Bloomsbury has grown and changed, influencing us and influenced by us, so the QEOP and its neighbours in the east of London will evolve, shaping our campus and being shaped by it. Just as our founders laid the groundwork for today's UCL community to thrive, so too we aim to leave a legacy that will enable future generations to fulfil their promise and that of their university.

For further detail on the progress of UCL, you can read an update by Adam Harman, UCL East Project Director (staff login details required). This summarises progress on the many strands of activity so far, and some of the next steps. Staff who would like to find out more will also have the chance to meet the UCL East masterplanning team on Wednesday 10 June.

I thank those of you who have already contributed to developing plans for UCL East, and I look forward to working with many more of you on this great endeavour.

Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) and Chair of the UCL East Academic Programme Board


UCL East website

Have your say about the masterplan - event in the UCL Front Quad 


A bird's eye view of the QEOP, where UCL East will be situated

Flyover video of the future sites of the Olympicopolis, including UCL East

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