Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, London School of Economics

O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects were selected as architects for a proposed New Students’ Centre through a two stage international architectural design competition in June 2009.

The proposal was to create an active Student Union, using democratic, everyday, unusual architecture of useful beauty, born out of an understanding of context.
The brief was to bring student facilities together under one roof. The multi-functional building includes a venue, pub, learning café, media, prayer, offices, gym, careers, dance studio and social spaces. The brief asked for the “best student building in the UK” and had the aspiration for BREEAM Excellent rating. The design achieved BREEAM Outstanding.

Street Life
The site is located at the knuckle-point convergence of narrow streets that characterise the LSE city centre campus. The faceted façade operates with respect to the Rights of Light Envelope and is tailored to lines of sight, to be viewed from street corner perspectives and to make visual connections between internal and external circulation. The brick skin is cut along fold lines to form large areas of glazing, framing views. Analysis of the context has influenced the first principles of a site specific architectural design.
Embodiment The building is designed to embody the dynamic character of a contemporary Student Centre. The complex geometries of the site provided a starting point for a lively arrangement of irregular floor plates, each particular to its function. Space flows freely in plan and section- stairs turn to create meeting places at every level.
Construction, Colour and Atmosphere
London is a city of bricks. The building is clad with bricks, with each brick offset from the next in an open work pattern, creating dappled daylight inside and glowing like a lattice lantern at night.
The building has the robust adaptability of a lived-in warehouse, with solid wooden floors underfoot. Steel trusses or ribbed concrete slabs span the big spaces. Circular steel columns prop office floors between the large span volumes and punctuate the open floor plan of the café. There are no closed-
in corridors. Every office workspace has views to the outside world. The basement venue is daylit from clerestory windows.

Building credentials include BREEAM Outstanding design rating, EPC “A” rating, DEC “A” rating- a first in London. Through robust detailing, building form and orientation, thermal massing, flexibility of building plan and smart systems design, active cooling has been removed. Building energy demands are met through Low/ Zero carbon technologies.
Constructed area: 6.100 m²
Surface: 1.780 m²