Transforming UCL


Kathleen Lonsdale Building

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Project Overview

The Kathleen Lonsdale Building (KLB) is located on Gower Place and is one of the major projects being carried out as part of Transforming UCL. The existing building was constructed in 1915 as the first purpose-built Chemistry building for UCL. Over the years it has been adapted to suit different UCL departments and as a result has become somewhat fragmented, with complex circulation routes on upper levels.

Significant modifications will be made to improve KLB's environmental performance and create better access around the building. Once completed KLB will fully accommodate the Earth Sciences department which has previously been split between different locations. In addition the work will maintain and refurbish the existing office and laboratory spaces. New open plan offices, shared studio space called Hubs, and a variety of break out spaces are also incorporated within the designs.

The refurbishment will improve the teaching, research and social learning spaces for the Chemistry (including Radio Chemistry & Computational Chemistry), Earth Sciences, Physics and AstroPhysics departments, the Faculty Office and the data centre. A number of specialist laboratories will be re-provided with significantly upgraded facilities:

  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics - Earth Sciences
  • A number of Microscopy labs and spaces
  • Geochronology - Earth Science
  • Geochemistry - Earth Science
  • Micropalaeontology Lab - Earth Science
  • Non-metal Lab - Earth Sciences
  • Multi-collector - Earth Sciences
  • Scanning Electron Microscope - Earth Sciences
  • BioGeo Chemical - Earth Sciences
  • GMP lab (Clean Room) - Chemistry (new lab)


Achieving higher sustainability standards is particularly challenging in a heritage listed building with a high number of laboratories; however, the project is on track to achieve an environmental rating of BREEAM 'Very Good', demonstrating significant performance improvements.

This includes upgrading the building controls and monitoring systems; introducing secondary glazing; utilising natural ventilation as far as possible; and upgrading the boilers and chillers - all of which will significantly reduce energy consumption. These interventions should help us to achieve a 23% reduction in overall carbon emissions.

Key sustainability features include:

  • Improved energy sub-metering will help UCL Estates to measure, monitor and manage consumption, identifying key areas to make savings
  • New highly-efficient lab equipment and LED lighting will significantly reduce energy use and carbon emissions
  • Indoor air quality will be improved through careful selection of materials and upgraded laboratory fume cupboards
  • The building's energy supply will be supplemented using solar (photovoltaic) panels which will generate clean, renewable electricity
  • Some of the energy demand will also be met by UCL's district heating network.
  • Upgraded bathroom facilities will result in reduced water consumption
  • The reuse of the building structure, and specification of new construction materials with high environmental ratings will reduce the overall impact of the works
  • Careful waste management will ensure extremely low levels of construction waste with over 90% of construction materials are diverted from landfill.

Campus Location

Kathleen Lonsdale Building Campus Map