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LSE Saw Hock Student Centre / O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects

  • 01:00 - 14 October, 2014
LSE Saw Hock Student Centre / O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects
LSE Saw Hock Student Centre / O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects, © Alex Bland
© Alex Bland

© Alex Bland © Alex Bland © Alex Bland © Dennis Gilbert +59

  • Architects

  • Location

    Houghton Street, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom
  • Design Team

    John Tuomey, Sheila O’Donnell, Willie Carey, Geoff Brouder, Laura Harty, Kirstie Smeaton, Gary Watkin, Anne-Louise Duignan, Ciara Reddy, Jitka Leonard, Iseult O’Cleary, Henrik Wolterstorff, Mark Grehan, Monika Hinz
  • Area

    6101.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

  • Executive Architect

    O’Donnell+Tuomey Architects
  • Structural Engineer

    Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners / Horganlynch Consulting Engineers
  • Services + Environmental Engineer

  • Security / Fire / Acoustics / Transport & Logistics / Venue

  • Project Manager

    Turner & Townsend
  • Quantity Surveyor

  • Planning Consultant

    Turley Associates
  • Party Wall Consultant

    Anstey Horne
  • Building Control Consultant

  • CDM Coordinator

    Gardiner & Theobald
© Alex Bland
© Alex Bland

From the architect. Street Life - within and without the building

The site is located at the knuckle-point convergence of the network of narrow streets that characterise the LSE city centre campus. The public space at the threshold of the Student Union on axis with St Clement’s Lane, creates a place of exchange; a spatial bowtie that intertwines circulation routes, splices visual connections between internal and external movement, and pulls pedestrian street life into and up the building. We have developed a site specific sculptural concept for the architectural design.  The folded, chamfered, canted and faceted façade operates with respect to the Rights of Light Envelope and is tailored in response to specific lines of sight along approaching vistas and from street corner perspectives. The surface of the brick skin is cut out along fold lines to form large areas of transparent glazing framing views in and out from street to room. Like a Japanese puzzle, our design is carefully assembled to make one coherent volume from a complex set of interdependent component parts.  Our analysis of the context has uniquely influenced the first principles of the design approach.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

Embodiment - Life in the Lively Form

The building is designed to embody the dynamic character of a contemporary Student Union. The complex geometries of the site provided a starting point for an unconventional arrangement of irregular floor plates, each one particular to its function and each working into the next by an intricate system of trapezoidal spatial configuration.  Space flows freely in horizontal plan and vertical section, with stairs gently twisting and slowly turning to create a variety of diagonal break-out spaces at landings and crossings throughout the building.

© Alex Bland
© Alex Bland

Brick Basket - New into Old

London is a city of bricks. The existing buildings on and adjacent to the site are built in bricks of varied and lively hue. Our design relates to the resilient characteristic of the city’s architecture with familiar materials made strange. The exterior walls are clad with bricks, used in a new way, with each brick offset from the next in an open work pattern, wrapping the walls in a permeable blanket that will create dappled daylight in particular spaces and, at night, when all the lights are on inside, the building will be seen from the streets like a glowing lattice lantern.

© Alex Bland
© Alex Bland

Lived In Warehouse - Material, Colour and Atmosphere

Our design refers to the robust adaptability-in-use of a lived-in warehouse. Open work steel trusses or ribbed concrete slabs will cross the big spaces with solid wooden floors underfoot. Lightweight partitions made of clear and coloured glass and timber have sliding screens for flexibility in use. Circular steel columns prop office floors between the large span volumes and punctuate the open floor plan of the café. Stairs are made of terrazzo and plate steel. Concrete ceilings contribute thermal mass with acoustic clouds suspended to soften the sound. Every landing has a bench or built-in couch. There are no closed-in corridors. Every hallway has daylight and views in at least one direction. Every office workspace has views to the outside world. The basement floor area is lit from clerestory windows and roof lights to allow for daytime use. This building does not feel like a hotel, an office, or an academic institution. It is fresh and airy, heavy and light, open and clear, sculptural and social.


Perforate Brick Screen

The faceted facade of the building is composed of both solid and perforated brick areas and glazed screens.The perforated planes are constructed from a single leaf of brickwork with spaces in the flemish bond pattern to allow light to both infiltrate the interior spaces and filtrate out at night to create a pattern effect.  The openwork brickwork is constructed in front of glazed screens that seal the building and incorporate opening sections to naturally ventilate the building.  The extent of perforation has been developed to maximise daylight into the building. The perforated masonry is supported by a series of posts which connect back to the primary concrete frame.  Solid brickwork in a flemish bond pattern blends into the perforated areas where openings / daylight is required.

© Alex Bland
© Alex Bland
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "LSE Saw Hock Student Centre / O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects" 14 Oct 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>