UCL News


UCL Student Centre wins architecture prize

26 November 2019

The Student Centre, which opened in February, received the Higher Education Project prize at the 2019 Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards, with judges praising its “extraordinary spaces”.

UCL Student Centre

The centre is designed by UCL alumnus and lead architect James Eades of Nicholas Hare Architects and is at the heart of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus, providing 1,000 new study spaces over eight levels as well as a rooftop terrace, a café and a landscaped courtyard.

The four judges, from leading UK architecture firms and construction consultancies, praised the building for creating a set of spaces that flowed, saying: “It is clever to make a university building part of the city. And, in the process, the architects have created some extraordinary spaces which can be used 24/7 and by all.”

Francesca Fryer, Director of UCL Estates, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Student Centre recognised as an asset for students and the community in Bloomsbury. The design is a culmination of architectural expertise and the input of students and staff from across UCL.”

The centre is one of the greenest student centres in the UK and opens up new walking routes across campus, connecting the Main Quad on Gower Street to Gordon Street.

In May the Student Centre was awarded a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) “Outstanding” rating, the highest measure of a building’s environmental, social and economic impact. – it is one of only about 320 buildings worldwide to have received this recognition. 

The judges praised the “impeccable” build quality and the use of highly durable materials, expressing hope that the “warm but robust palette of materials” would reduce maintenance and extend the building’s life cycle. One judge said the careful choice of materials made the building feel like it “really belonged to UCL”.

Much of the building material is recycled, using GGBS concrete and recycled aggregates. The building fabric is also highly efficient, helping to regulate temperature and minimise energy use. Other sustainability features include ground-source heat pumps, natural ventilation features, solar panels and a roof garden.

The new centre has won a series of awards since it opened, including the Building Performance prize in the prestigious 2019 Building Awards and the Judges' Inspiration prize at the 2019 Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) Awards. It was given “highly commended” status by the Concrete Society and was recognised for the best “Student/Pupil Experience” and as “Project of the Year” at the Education Estates awards in October.

The Student Centre is a key part of Transforming UCL, a £1.25 billion ten-year programme of investment in UCL’s estate across London to support the university’s growth. Other major phases of the programme are the construction of a world-class neurological research centre in King’s Cross and UCL East, an entirely new campus in east London, adjacent to the Olympic Park.



Nicholas Hare Architects (c) Alan Williams Photography

Media contact

Mark Greaves

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 9485

Email: m.greaves [at] ucl.ac.uk