London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects for the LSE Estates Division

London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre
London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre · Credit: Dennis Gilbert

London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre
O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects for the LSE Estates Division
Contract £24.1m. GIA 6,100m2

They relish difficult sites, do O’Donnell+Tuomey, multiple Stirling Prize nominee but never yet the winner. This remarkable student centre, its impressive London calling-card, is generated both by its constrained site and its network of surrounding streets, which the practice sees as spiralling up into the building. The complexity of form, with its angled intersecting and part-perforated walls, is then worked out in an astonishing number of English hand-made brick specials, not one of which had to be cut. 

· Credit: Dennis Gilbert

A lot of different functions are arranged in spiral fashion in the resulting spaces, from a basement club to a rooftop gym. There are architectural delights at every turn. The judges talk of the architect achieving its quality of design-build craftsmanship ‘though sheer willpower’. It obviously took everyone – client, planners and builders – with it. One would hope this fascinating building goes a very long way in this year’s awards.

· Credit: Dennis Gilbert