Transforming UCL


Confucius Institute

Project Overview

15 Woburn Square is a terraced Georgian property that has been renovated to provide high quality working spaces to support the work of the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute for Schools.

Led by architects Hawkins\Brown, the project has revitalised the former townhouse, reversing a series of unsympathetic modern interventions and restoring its heritage features to provide an elegant and practical new home for the Institute.

First acquired by the university in the 1950s and 60s, the interiors have suffered from years of use as offices, and the project team have worked to restore the building's period features using traditional plasterwork and painting methods in accordance with requirements from heritage authorities.

In keeping with the local surroundings, and located at the heart of the UCL campus, each room has been thoughtfully and purposefully designed combining interiors chosen to reflect Sino-British cultures while being technologically contemporary and a great working environment.

Design features of the new Institute include:

  • an interior strategy that works closely with the building's original hierarchy, utilising the generous ceiling heights and large windows of the ground and first floor spaces to create more formal and structured environments, and the more intimate proportions of the historic service quarters for relaxed spaces.
  • restoration of original Georgian decorative features, including joinery such as skirtings, panelled doors and picture rails, and ornate plasterwork cornices and ceiling roses.
  • flexible seminar spaces for teacher training, and a more open and collaborative environment. Locating the canteen in the basement will encourage movement around the building, and tea points will foster chance meetings.
  • a colour and material palette inspired by traditional Chinese paintings and furniture, with rich shades of red and orange, black and gold that will complement the existing historic interiors while reflecting the aims of the Institute to promote Chinese culture.
  • furniture chosen in collaboration with the China Design Centre, showcasing the unique design vision emerging from young artists, and creating a space to celebrate cross-cultural encounters between British and Chinese designers.
  • new hard and soft landscaping and planting, reinstating the rear garden as an attractive space for relaxation, in keeping with its original domestic function as a townhouse.


Please see the Confucious Institute for further information.