UCL’s Faculty of Law has occupied Bentham House, a prominent Grade II listed former union headquarters in Bloomsbury, since the 1960s. In 2005, when an increase in student numbers demanded more space, the campus spread into the adjacent Gideon Schreier Wing. However, over the years, the facilities had grown tired and impractical, needing overhauling to meet the demands of a modern teaching and learning environment.
Unifying two disparate and poorly connected buildings, architecture practice Levitt Bernstein, was to create a new central hub space to link the two buildings and resolve many of the circulation issues. A new atrium was created to provide the social heart of the faculty, delivering a café and flexible areas for private and group study whilst simultaneously providing access to all levels.
A staggered ‘brick-style’ layout perfectly complemented the other finishes in the space
Throughout, sensitive refurbishment was combined with modern interventions to create exemplary, modern teaching, learning and social spaces. This concept of marrying the historic fabric and contemporary details is also evident within the interior design: traditional finishes such as polished wood panelling and brass fixtures have been supplemented with modern furniture and fixtures and a fresh colour palette.
Solus collaborated on three areas of the project, ‘the hub’, café and staircase, supplying two matching, yet distinctive terrazzo ranges to the floor and wall spaces. Both ranges were bespoke cut to match the timber and chrome panelling in the main hub. In order to meet the technical specifications of the project, Solus worked closely with Levitt Bernstein and the manufacturer to develop special slip resistant R10 tiles.
A carefully crafted, user-friendly learning space
The project also featured a range of bespoke crafted pieces such as steps, tiles inlaid with brass step treads, clad plinths and matching skirting pieces.
Commenting on working with Solus, Interior Designer Jana Bartak, said: “Not only did we encounter amazing technical and design support throughout the whole project we were also motivated by the enthusiasm of the team to sample a new product and try a bespoke solution, rather than to use a standard range.”
Photos by Tim Crocker