Replicates the original grade I listed premises in spatial sequence, proportions and key materials
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021
Bennetts Associates for Royal College of Pathologists
Contract value: undisclosed
The new headquarters for the Royal College of Pathologists serves a variety of functions by providing educational areas, ballrooms, workspaces, social spaces, areas for exhibitions and meetings, and overnight guest suites.
At the entrance, the modest concrete and brick street frontage leads to a striking double-height lobby. The lovingly crafted use of materials is controlled and reductive but never stark, and brings the spaces to life. The concrete of the structure is expressed unadorned, reflecting back the daylight soothingly. Brick is expressed as load-bearing on the two exposed facades, and used inside to make clear distinctions in hierarchy through the building.
A third set of materials softens the muscular brick and concrete, featuring wood inlays in the windows, ballroom, library, and the mild steel feature stair. The design retains the style and feel of the college’s former headquarters in St James’s, but introduces a ceremonial entrance stair in a new and modern way.
As a purpose built-headquarters, this adaptable, multifunctional building affords the college greater flexibility than if it had stayed put. Its concrete-framed structure allows for large spans, which create flexible, column-free floorplates. There is the potential to expand into the uppermost floor if required – in the meantime, this space can be sublet. As well as reusing the existing foundations, the building dramatically cut back on embodied carbon with self-finishing structural materials and by reducing the overall volume of concrete with sculptural coffered ceilings.
The decision to relocate to the city fringe of Aldgate was bold but ultimately successful. The new headquarters delivers an impressive and sustainable home for this venerable institution, paving the way for a bright future.