img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2939831959404383&ev=PageView&noscript=1")

LSBU Hub, Southwark

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

London South Bank University's recycled 1970s concrete building comes alive thanks to a liberating retrofit by WilkinsonEyre

LSBU Hub.
LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner

2024 RIBA London Award

LSBU Hub, Southwark
WilkinsonEyre for London South Bank University
Contract value: £47,350,000
GIA: 20,466m2
Cost per m2: £2,314

Located just north of Elephant and Castle, this is a long-established facility for London South Bank University (LSBU), where students are taught practical and professional skills on site. It is heavily used as a resource and as a place to study. The recycled 1970s concrete building has come alive in the hands of architects WilkinsonEyre, who have opened up an astonishing 20,500 square metres of teaching space. The original building, as it was featured in The Architects’ Journal in 1976, was clad in red brick and with stepped forms and patent glazing. This major retrofit acts like a new suit, re-dressing every face of the building, externally and within the atriums – no mean feat. Furthermore, retaining the existing structure saved 65 per cent on embodied carbon – just under half the 2030 RIBA benchmark target.

  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
1234

The project includes the extensive internal reconfiguration of the sports and catering facilities and the refurbishment of seven retained lecture theatres, film studios and cinema space. The building houses the relocated library, the university archive, a mix of small group learning areas and hi-tech teaching spaces, computer labs and quiet study areas, as well as staff offices.

Tight corridors have been removed to liberate the circulation, bringing a new sense of light and openness to the interior. The architects worked closely with engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan. Together, they have designed two main structural interventions: they have infilled two existing lightwells by hanging new floors, and then added glazing all over, lined with timber cladding. The effect is a natural sense of warmth and continuity across the building.

The new atrium, accessed from the new entrance, is inviting and works hard as the central circulation spine for all levels of the building. Wayfinding is clear and the jury was impressed by the clarity of this plan and ease of navigation. Along its length, acoustic panels are concealed inside slatted plywood. The counterpoint to this low-key detailing is a strikingly colourful artwork and enlarged print of David Bomberg’s 1914 painting ‘In the Hold’. 

  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
  • LSBU Hub.
    LSBU Hub. Credit: Edmund Sumner
12345

This facility is phenomenal in many respects, but particularly commendable for its sustainable approach and creative reworking. LSBU Hub is an exemplar of how to achieve the critical balance between a low carbon retrofit and the creation of a dynamic, functional, future-proofed building. A key move that exemplifies the rigour of the architectural approach is the utilisation of an empty volume above the existing lecture halls and sports hall. Here, large trusses span the void, from which new floors are hung. This creates much-needed, uninterrupted volume for the library, while minimising the complexity (and therefore carbon). The existing structure and foundations had spare capacity and so took the extra loads of the new additions without the need for more reinforcement. There is only subtle strengthening to beams to account for increased loading for library shelving. A model of structural and functional efficiency.

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Wilmott Dixon Interiors

Structural engineer Eckersley O'Callaghan

Environmental/M&E engineer BDP

Façade consultant Eckersley O'Callaghan

Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Fulkers Bailey Russell

Landscape architect Churchman Thornhill Finch

Acoustic engineer BDP

Lighting design BDP

Sustainability BDP

Project management Fulkers Bailey Russell

Credit: WilkinsonEyre
Credit: WilkinsonEyre
Credit: WilkinsonEyre
Credit: WilkinsonEyre
Credit: WilkinsonEyre
Credit: WilkinsonEyre

Latest articles

Webinar: Addressing Onsite Safety using Fall Protection Systems

  1. Products

Webinar: Addressing Onsite Safety using Fall Protection Systems

PiP Design for Sustainability Webinar 2024

  1. Products

PiP Design for Sustainability Webinar 2024