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Kingston University Town House, Kingston

‘Warehouse of ideas’ offers an imaginative approach to education as a process of engagement and discovery

Kingston University Town House.
Kingston University Town House. Credit: Dennis Gilbert

RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA London Regional Award winner 2021

Client of the Year Award


Grafton Architects for Kingston University
Contract value: undisclosed
GIA: 9,056m2

The Town House’s challenging brief framed a bold aspiration to design the beating heart for Kingston University within a building worthy of the international stage. Combining two dynamically opposed uses – dance studio and library – the highly accomplished result is both technically and spatially excellent, generating a warm and dynamic energy that truly captures the spirit of learning.

Conceptually, the building exploits two key devices: colonnade and courtyard. Wrapping the building in a tall colonnade gives it presence on the street, successfully balancing the need for a landmark statement with a respectful response to its context.

  • Kingston University Town House.
    Kingston University Town House. Credit: Dennis Gilbert
  • Kingston University Town House.
    Kingston University Town House. Credit: Dennis Gilbert
  • Kingston University Town House.
    Kingston University Town House. Credit: Dennis Gilbert
  • Kingston University Town House.
    Kingston University Town House. Credit: Dennis Gilbert
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The collision and separation of opposing uses, like a dance itself, creates endless connections through voids, views, stairs and windows. When occupied by people, the dynamic interplay will prevent the building from feeling sterile or institutional. The acoustics too are expertly controlled, with quiet and noisy uses set symbiotically side-by-side. Spaces flow freely around the inner courtyard where students meet, surrounded by creativity on all sides.

Environmentally, the building is BREEAM Excellent in design. Embodied carbon was reduced through structural efficiency and the use of better concrete mixes, designing out the need for a carbon intensive basement. The concrete frame’s thermal mass helps to regulate indoor temperatures, reducing the overall energy load.

High quality is evident at every scale, from the choice of materials to more abstract characteristics of warmth and flow. The muted colour palette and detailing is controlled and expertly executed – nothing is out of place, everything is considered, creating a rich, beautiful canvas against which to set young creative minds free.


See the rest of the London South West winners here

And all the RIBA Regional Awards here

See other RIBA National Awards 2021 winners, Education, here

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