UCL officially opens new east London campus
18 September 2023
Olympic champion and former UCL student Christine Ohuruogu MBE was joined by two recent graduates to ‘push the button’ and open UCL East, the university’s largest expansion in its almost 200-year history.
Christine and London Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons, were welcomed by UCL President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence, Victor Chu CBE, Chair of UCL Council, and Professor Paola Lettieri, Pro-Provost UCL East at the new Marshgate building on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London.
The campus is a direct response to the biggest challenges facing people and the planet. It is designed to accelerate breakthroughs in areas including robotics and AI, ecology, sustainable cities, green manufacturing, decarbonised transport, assistive technology, fair finance, and global health.
A ceremony to mark the occasion began with speeches by Dr Dania Posso and Peter Kanyike. Dania, a medical doctor from Columbia, and Peter, from east London, are two of the first students to study at UCL East, both having completed an MSc in Global Healthcare Management at the UCL Global Business School for Health.
This was followed by an introduction from former Olympic, World and Commonwealth 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu MBE, who is a UCL alumna and former UCL Council member.
Christine said: “Having grown up a mile from here, it’s incredible to see what Stratford has become today. Stratford is the place to be. It’s the place for collaboration, for learning, for addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges. What I love about UCL being in East London is that it has incredible power to inspire and hold our communities together.”
The culmination of the ceremony saw a big orange button delivered to the stage by a robotic ‘dog’, piloted by UCL robotics researchers. The button was pressed by Christine, alongside Peter and Dania, to declare UCL East officially open.
Professor Paola Lettieri FREng, Pro-Provost of UCL East, said: “Our students are future innovators, and to innovate they will have to see problems from multiple perspectives. Our new campus will expose them to new ways of thinking and working across disciplines in spaces that encourage people to talk and cross-pollinate different ideas. The world is facing unprecedented challenges in areas such as climate, decarbonisation and sustainability. I’m confident our new UCL East campus will foster even more of the breakthroughs and discoveries that UCL is renowned for.”
Guests were treated to a tour of Marshgate, which will welcome postgraduate and undergraduate students from Monday 25 September. The eight-storey structure is full of hi-tech research labs, a library and exhibition spaces nestling beside the ArcelorMittal Orbit and London Stadium. It will host leading-edge research centres spanning a range of disciplines, such as the Advanced Propulsion Lab which will focus on decarbonisation of the transport sector, and the Manufacturing Futures Lab which aims to future-proof manufacturing in a world where sustainability is essential.
UCL’s President and Provost Dr Michael Spence said: “Our new campus is the culmination of years of hard work alongside local and global partners who share our vision and passion for excellence. At East Bank, we are part of an investment of young minds and energy to drive local innovation that can transform lives, as we collectively seek to create a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come.”
UCL is the first of five world renowned institutions to open sites at East Bank, the UK’s new culture, innovation and learning quarter on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will be joined later this month by London College of Fashion UAL, by Sadler’s Wells East in 2024, and by the V&A East and BBC Music Studios in 2025. The development is backed by the Mayor of London as a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The urgent need to protect our planet for future generations is a thread running throughout the campus, with students encouraged to take part in projects focusing on local social and environmental issues. Students will also be offered shared study modules such as ‘sustainability and decision-making’.
Every aspect of research and teaching on the campus sees different disciplines working together in shared laboratories and studios, setting aside traditional university structures and breaking down boundaries between academic disciplines.
Construction work on the new campus, which straddles the River Lea on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, began in 2019. One Pool Street, which opened last year next to the London Aquatics Centre, includes teaching spaces, a cinema, accommodation for more than 500 students, and a public skatepark created from a research project with local skaters.
More than 500 students have already completed postgraduate degrees firmly rooted in the Park and its surroundings from One Pool Street, in subjects including Ecology and Data Science, Connected Environments, and Creative Health.
The UCL East campus is open to the public to enjoy, with a programme of exhibitions, events and activities for schools due to be announced later in the autumn.
Art by former students and east London artists is on display throughout the buildings for visitors to enjoy, including The Trēow of Time by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, and Hear Now by Emma Hart. A magnificent, giant Gaia globe artwork gently turns above your head in the atrium at Marshgate.
East Bank represents the biggest ever cultural investment by the Mayor of London, with support from HM Government and the four Olympic boroughs.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The new campus at UCL East is an exciting milestone for East Bank. As one of the top ten universities in the world, it will cement East Bank’s place as a powerhouse for innovation, creativity and learning. UCL East will attract scholars from across the world who will nurture and inspire students for generations to come, helping to build a better London for everyone."
- UCL East
- UCL Flickr stream
- Professor Paola Lettieri's academic profile
- UCL President & Provost, Dr Michael Spence
- East Bank
- Peter Kanyike, Christine Ohuruogu OBE and Dr Dania Posso push the button to open UCL East. Credit: Andrew Parsons.
Dr Matt Midgley
E: m.midgley [at] ucl.ac.uk