Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre Building, England Architecture Photos

Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre, UK

24 August 2021

Design: Penoyre & Prasad Architects

Location: 373 Euston Road, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Architects Penoyre & Prasad design striking new teaching and learning centre for Birkbeck, University of London

● The refurbishment and extension of 373 Euston Road accommodates a state-of-the-art 180-person lecture theatre, high-quality classrooms, as well as formal and informal co-learning spaces.

● Refurbishment revitalises the existing building by enhancing original design elements and embraces its historical spirit.

New teaching and learning centre for Birkbeck, University of London Building

External view of the campus from Euston Road / Warren Street:
Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre building

London-based architectural practice Penoyre & Prasad, a studio of Perkins&Will, has created a new teaching and learning centre for Birkbeck, University of London, as part of the university’s broader strategy to provide more high-quality teaching space.

The project is a refurbishment and rooftop extension of an existing building which sits on Euston Road, near to the main Malet Street Campus. Taking advantage of its prominent location, the new teaching building is an opportunity to showcase the Birkbeck brand to a broader audience and contributes to Birkbeck’s reputation as a world-class teaching institution.

External view of the rooftop extension:
Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre building

The design team strived to create a unique building that showcases the Birkbeck brand and signifies the civic importance of the new teaching centre. The bold geometric form glistens in copper and embraces the existing building, while its cantilevered façade extends outwards in a welcoming gesture towards the community. As night falls, the building illuminates, showcasing the activity within and expressing the significance of Birkbeck as the UK’s only evening university.

Penoyre & Prasad’s design revitalises the existing 1920s block by rediscovering and enhancing the original design elements whilst embracing its historical spirit. The building sits in a sensitive heritage context, diagonally opposite Sir John Soane’s Grade I listed Holy Trinity Church, and within walking distance of Euston Road’s significant landmark buildings.

The two distinct elements—the refurbished existing building and new lecture theatre—appear together as a sculptural object on a busy urban corner. The new lecture theatre appears as a playful and dramatic form, protruding from the top of the existing building. The copper cladding used for the extension is subtly different in colour and materiality from the existing building below, expressing the extension as a clearly distinct object and a landmark.

The building addresses the large-scale of Euston Road and the small-scale of Warren Street and its surrounding residential neighbourhood. With a form that mediates these contrasting contexts, the refurbishment enhances the existing building.

The 7-storey building accommodates a café that is open to the public and a learning hub for students on the ground floor and basement. Teaching and learning spaces fill the upper floors and a state-of-the-art 180-person lecture theatre, and a 25-person classroom informs the sculpted rooftop extension.

Internal view of rooftop extension accommodating 180-person lecture theatre:
Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre building

The design creates an engaging space for the public and building users by maximising views into the building from the ground floor. On one corner, opposite the Holy Trinity Church’s civic space, a stepped learning deck connects the student social space located in the basement with the ground floor, bringing light into the lower level. Views from this learning deck look outwards onto Holy Trinity Church and Regents Park beyond.

Internal lecture theatre demonstrating view maximisation from ground floor:
Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre interior design

Mark Rowe, principal, Penoyre & Prasad commented: “Our aim for this project was to breathe new life into the existing building and give Birkbeck a dynamic presence in a prominent location.

“The timber formed, copper clad, twisted lecture theatre protrudes from above the building, creating a striking moment that can be recognised from afar, whilst providing the much-needed teaching spaces. Views into the basement through ample glazed shop windows capture the curiosity of passers-by, creating an engaging space for the public and building users.”

Internal lecture theatre design:
Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre interior

Van Nguyen – Deputy Director of Estates Development commented:

“373 Euston Road is one of several projects which form part of the first steps in delivering Birkbeck’s ambitious Estates strategy to provide a substantial increase in high-quality teaching, study and research space. There are further exciting projects currently being planned to build upon our success and achieve our long-term strategic goal of teaching every student in a Birkbeck building or teaching facility.

“The timely completion of this excellent building will mean that we will open it and begin to use it as a teaching facility as we welcome students back for the start of the new academic year after 18 months of largely remote learning during the pandemic.

“Penoyre & Prasad – Mark Rowe, Louise Boddie and the team has done a great job.”

Penoyre & Prasad Architects

Birkbeck, University of London teaching and learning centre images / information from Penoyre & Prasad Architects

Location: 373 Euston Rd, London, England, UK

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