UCL News


A look inside UCL Estates: Clare Hall

15 February 2024

You’re probably already aware of just how complex the UCL estate is. But do you know how complex our buildings and their technical systems are on the inside?

An outdoor worksite with a crane and people wearing hard hats

It’s something we love about UCL. We have ultra-modern spaces like the Student Centre next door to historic, listed sites such as the Wilkins and Cruciform Buildings, and design icons such as the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies Library. 

We recently caught up with a few members of the Campus Experience & Infrastructure team to learn more about how their staff keep UCL’s varied estate up and running. 

Paulo Rossetto, Building Services Engineer (Project Manager) and his Project Team recently installed a new steam boiler plant for a research lab at a UCL building complex outside of London. As a mixed-use space, some areas of the site are used as office and storage space, while other areas contain highly technical lab equipment with specific heating, cooling, and humidity requirements. Until this year, the whole complex had been run on the same ageing steam plant. Paulo’s team have installed a new plant specifically for the lab to improve efficiency and sustainability by avoiding unnecessary heating of unoccupied spaces. These changes have future-proofed the space independently of how the rest of the building complex can be used. 

The highly technical installation operation involved transporting large machinery through winding country lanes. To ensure the 250-ton crane and trucks had a smooth journey, the Project Team obtained permission from the local council to install temporary traffic lights on certain roads. They also informed residents of the plans in person, and asked that cars be parked on only one side of the lane for the event.  

Paulo said, ‘The biggest challenges were the temporary heating system setup and the lifting operation for the new plant. We had to route around the main building works, get lots of new and very large equipment to site, and perform very precise manoeuvres with the crane – once we’d managed to get it down the lanes! This wouldn’t have been possible without careful planning, a professional team including Margaret Sackey from UCL Estates Health & Safety Team who assisted the project to ensure the project safety risks were identified, collated and managed. The contractors Alpine and Project Team Leads – Fulkers and Fowler Martin, ensured there was excellent communication between all stakeholders including the building managers and lab users.’ 

Temporary systems were set up to maintain the research space during the installation works and minimise the impact on building users. Debby Mustafa, an end user for the project, shared some advice to those who have estates projects coming up: ‘I’d encourage end users to fully engage with the project and work as a team with the contractors and Estates Team so you can advise on users’ needs throughout the whole process.’ 

If you’d like to learn more about upcoming building projects and find out how you can join the conversation about UCL’s Estates Masterplan, join the UCL Staff Town Hall on 21 February (in-person or online).