Westminster City Council resolves to grant planning permission for Strand redevelopment
Posted on 23/04/2015
Westminster City Council has resolved to grant planning permission for the proposals for the redevelopment of several elements of King’s College London’s Strand Campus. The proposed project provides high quality teaching and student commons accommodation, publicly accessible auditoria and events spaces, and re-characterises the King’s Quadrangle as a re-invigorated publicly accessible external space.
The architects for the project, Hall McKnight, won the commission for the project following an RIBA design contest in 2012; their proposal creates intricate connections between the existing 18th, 19th and 20th century buildings, allowing these to be linked at basement level with a new ‘commons’ environment.
The existing Quadrangle building occupies two storeys below the Quadrangle itself and is to be replaced with a new building. This new building links to the Embankment Entrance, which is proposed as a new pedestrian entry point to the university. The Embankment Entrance is characterised by the proposed uncovering of the original brick and stone vaults, exposing fabric that has been hidden for decades.
The new Quadrangle Building provides a focus for student learning activity by providing a high quality student learning commons that runs the full length of the space. The Quadrangle itself is designed for use as an external commons space that will also support events; the original symmetry of Sir William Chambers’ plan for the Somerset House complex is recognised and re-established through the proposal of a ‘tower’ to the north end of the Quadrangle. The tower forms an extension to the existing Strand Building and contains teaching accommodation and re-creates a subsidiary axis in relationship with the archway to the river terrace to the south.
A new building fronts the Strand to the east of Somerset House, providing academic space on the upper floors and public engagement spaces and access to theatres in the basement from ground level. This building retains the listed elevations of 152-153 The Strand.
The entrance to the campus from The Strand and a new, more open foyer for the campus are provided in a re-working of a section of the ground floor of the Strand Building.
Hall McKnight said: 'This is a significant moment for our practice; the project for King’s involved careful study of a remarkably complex environment; it has been a privilege to work on such a stimulating project with a strong team and a committed client. The need to engage in detail with the site and the brief development led us to take the decision to set up a small studio in London which we hope will now grow as we develop the project further, and hopefully obtain new commissions in central London. Whilst still a growing practice with our main office in Belfast we think this demonstrates how a committed team can successfully address substantial, complex and demanding projects.'
Ralph Luck, Director of Real Estate at King’s, added: 'The new development is part of a planned improvement of the campus by King’s College London to accommodate strategic growth in student numbers and provide better quality accommodation. The investment in the founding campus of the university will ensure the enduring use of the original King’s Building. The university plans to develop high quality spaces for teaching, research and public engagement to enhance its position as one of the world’s leading universities.'
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