Bringing Brutalism into the 21st century

We transformed four floors of this 1970s Grade II listed building to create a new library experience for the University of London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

Project partners

  • Currie & Brown
  • Burwell Deakins Architects
  • Fowler Martin

Project description

The works focused on the refurbishment of the Institute’s library with the aim of creating an engaging research and study space which caters to visitors, students and staff alike. We worked with Burwell Deakins Architects to bring their vision of this striking space to life.

A new sliding drum entrance door and platform lift were installed on the ground floor to aid accessibility. Meanwhile, the upper three library floors were interlinked by new internal staircases to facilitate flexible collaboration between staff and students.

Brutalist roots

It was essential that the distinctive style of the listed building was preserved during the refurbishment. Necessary structural updates and replacements of worn existing installations were thoughtfully carried out with consideration of the original Brutalist design.

We worked closely with the local conservation officer to sample and test various methods of concrete restoration; ensuring that the new refurbishment breathed life into the existing structure. The result is that the new architectural glass and joinery complement the exposed walls and columns which were carefully cleaned and repaired as part of the refurbishment process.

Keeping it quiet

Our works were carefully completed while the library — which caters to over 200 students at any one time ­— remained fully functional from 9am to 10pm daily. We undertook the refurbishment in a phased approach and maintained strict daily scheduling with our supply chain to ensure that noisy works were carefully planned and agreed with stakeholders to minimise disruption.

Having successfully worked on several large-scale Central London projects in the past, our team knew how to seamlessly plan and execute architectural alterations with minimal impact on the rest of the building and the surrounding area.

Looking back to see the future

With careful planning and construction, we were able to breathe new life back into the existing Lasdun structure.

The end result of the refurbishment is a fluid and dynamic library space which accommodates the Institute’s forward-thinking faculties, whilst also acknowledging and appreciating the architectural innovations of the building’s history.

The project was shortlisted for a Considerate Constructor award and is on-track to achieve SKA Gold.

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