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London South Bank University Pole by WilkinsonEyre

The project radically transforms London South Bank University’s (LSBU) London Road building as part of a wider regeneration of St George’s Quarter, to create an open and welcoming centerpiece for its main Southwark campus. Designed as an inclusive center for the university, the comprehensive renovation and overhaul brings together a library, lecture halls, fitness facilities, teaching rooms, informal learning spaces and catering facilities to support students and staff, as well as to provide services to the local community.

Located north of Elephant and Castle, the 1970s concrete-frame building was (and is) the largest academic building on LSBU’s main campus, providing around one-fifth of the total teaching and learning space of the University. A feasibility study identified the negative impact that the blank exterior facades, warren-like interiors and poor accessibility had on the building’s users. The university emphasized the need to allow the building to operate in a communal, cooperative and collaborative manner while retaining the building’s key large volumes. Through adaptive reuse, we solved these problems by opening up the 20,000m2 space to enhance and enhance the user experience while ensuring the sustainability of the building for years to come. The building has achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating and, retaining the existing structure, the total embodied carbon is half of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge target benchmark.
Nat Keast, Partner, WilkinsonEyre

Project data

Start on site January 2020
Completion April 2022
Gross interior area 20,466m²
Building cost £47.3m
Construction cost per m2£2,313
Architect WilkinsonEyre
Customer University of South Bank London
structural engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E consultant BDP
Quantity Surveyor Fulkers Bailey Russell
Project Manager Fulkers Bailey Russell
lead designer RPA
Certified building inspector Jhai
Main contractor Wilmott Dixon Interiors
Landscape architect Churchman Thornhill Finch
fire consultant Tenos
Facade consultant Eckersley O’Callaghan
Acoustic consultant BDP
Planning Advisor BDP
CAD software used relive
annual CO2 emissions 29 kg CO2/m2 (predicted)
Expected life 50 years
Carbon embodied/lifetime 375 kg CO2e/m2

The architect’s choices

Externally, we specified Schüco aluminum curtain wall systems, as they could be used in many different ways to express variations through the scheme. The system was used with standard spandrel panels and perimeter caps in the fiberglass reinforced concrete (GRC) liner module, but with frameless transoms. Fin profile caps were used at levels above and below the GRC zones, as well as capless systems to form slots adjacent to the masonry cores.

Fin profiles combined with structural glazing joints and more subtle T-caps were also used to characterize the main entrance screen, lantern corners and glazing along the prominent London Road elevation .

Internally, the challenge was to find products that were both economical and durable, particularly for flooring. Interface Employ carpet tiles and Conica Coniflor resin floors were selected to achieve this combination, as well as some positive aspects of sustainability.
Nat Keast, Partner, WilkinsonEyre


From the start, glass fiber reinforced concrete (GRC) was identified as an ideal material to use on the project to provide the desired civic aesthetics but also to avoid adding significant loads to the existing structure. We worked closely with the sub-contractor, Tellings, at the design stage to develop the three-dimensional panels, as well as the vertical fins and horizontal stripes. Alongside the 100% white Bromo brick with white mortar used on the existing concrete stair cores and shear walls, the GRC helped transform the perception of the building.

We had to fight hard to retain the GRC through various value engineering exercises, but the university stood by us and could see the impact the new facade would have.

Another early-stage decision was to use timber cladding on the interior to complement and soften the exposed concrete coffered structure. We first looked at oak slats and fins, but moved on to birch plywood. This was also a cost benefit, but we felt it was actually more appropriate and suited to the slightly rawer feel of the interior, as well as the exposed services, perforated metal acoustic rafts, resin floors and steel mesh balustrades. Its lightness was also a factor that we felt could contribute to an uplifting interior, in contrast to the institutional and sterile character of the existing building.
Nat Keast, Partner, WilkinsonEyre

Selected products

The Custom Brick Company
Bromo 100% White
Exterior masonry

Curtain wall systems
FW50+/60+ SG, waterproof
Various glazed screens

Glass doors
Main entrance, terrace and courtyard access

Opening windows
AWS-114 70 BS.HI
Keyworth Street Elevation

revolving doors
boon edam
Crystal Tourniket revolving doors
Main entrance hall

Glass grids
Tairmo Allglass Glass Grid System
Glass screen at the main entrance

Enamel boards
Profilit Double Glazing
Thomas Doyle Street Elevation

Modular longlights
Roofs of the library and the hall

blue roof
United Kingdom
Duoflex system
main roof

zinc roof
Blue Gray Protect Standing Seam
Entrance hall roof

Exterior metal doors
Assa Abloy
Emergency stairs

Resin floors
Coniflor IPS/LPC+
Hall, main circulation and WC, refectory and sports halls

Use Loop
Library, lecture halls and teaching rooms

sports floor
Taraflex Evolution
fitness studio

Ceiling tiles and rafts
SAS International
Ceiling System 330 Ceilings,
Raft System 600
Rafts in all study areas

Acoustic panels
Solo, Rectangular
Undersides of the amphitheater

Internal glass screens
north gate
Basic, Vision DG
Various internal screens

Cell systems
TBS Amwell
Impact, splash
WC/changing rooms

Raised floors
Kingspan Access Floors
Open concept library area

Interior doors
Interior doors in general

Amphitheater seats
Auditorium services

library shelving
rack line
Monotrak mobile storage, Proform shelving systems

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