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Cruciform Hub

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

University College London

The Cruciform Hub provides a range of new social and learning spaces within the lower ground floor of the Grade II Listed Cruciform Building, located on UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus.

The project delivers a dramatic transformation. It provides students with a vibrant and engaging environment, whilst sensitively reusing an iconic building and incorporating historic features uncovered during the works. A new entrance and staircase link provides direct access from the ground floor entrance hall, and allows daylight to filter into the basement spaces. Light further penetrates the space through newly opened up windows and rooflight inserts, which offer framed views from basement level of the building’s gothic façade. Following extensive consultation with students through prototyping of furniture and spatial arrangements, the project provides collaborative learning spaces that respond to new ways of working required by today’s medical students.

Status      Completed 2014

Shortlisted for NLA Award for Education

Shortlisted for AJ Retrofit Award for Higher Education

Loughborough Design School

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

Loughborough University
BREEAM Excellent

‘A focal point for high quality design thinking on the campus that will communicate the University’s expertise to industry and the wider world’ – this was the vision. A simple circulation pattern acts as a transparent communication loop, which expands and contracts to be an ever-changing working exhibition of the university’s design and research skills. The informal design engenders a fertile environment: it embodies advanced ideas for learning environments and sustainability, and speaks to its surrounding community by including public exhibition and café spaces at ground level.

Gross Floor Area      7,920sqm
Construction Value      £14.5m
Status Completed 2012



RIBA National Award

RIBA East Midlands Building of the Year Award

RIBA East Midlands Sustainability Award

RIBA East Midlands Client of the Year

FX International Interior Design Award for Workplace Seating

Scott Building

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

This RIBA Award winning scheme transformed this old school into a sophisticated home for visual arts studios. The large north windows draw in even light and showcase the old printing presses on the ground floor to create a dialogue with the surrounding campus. Glass shingles, coloured to match the Plymouth limestone of the façades, act as a naturally ventilated rainscreen that ensures a private and draught free environment on the beautifully north lit upper floors. 

RIBA National Award

Marine Building

Project Information

Plymouth University
BREEAM Excellent

Acting as a gateway to the university, the transparent ground floor of the Marine Building displays its world-class wave modelling facilities – a symbol of Plymouth’s eminence in marine sciences – to encourage dialogue with the city and beyond. An independent shallow coastal basin sits at mezzanine level above deep-water facilities with variable depth wave and current generation. The subject communities and their commercial and research partners occupy the upper floors. Plymouth limestone ashlar walls form the base for a colonnade providing sun shading and a civic presence for the project.

Gross Floor Area      4,500sqm
Project Value £8.5m
Status Completed 2012

Royal Free Hub

Project Information

A vibrant new student hub has been created in a formally underused space at Royal Free Hospital, providing students with a place to study, collaborate and relax. The hub is defined by a mix of high backed sofas creating intimate study spaces, shared tables offering spaces for group work, and a bar table along the window wall providing naturally lit workspaces. The kitchen is separated from the main hub by a slatted oak screen and provides generous tables and benches for communal gathering, combined with pendant lights that give the space an inviting domestic feel.

Performance Centre

Project Information

Falmouth University
BREEAM Excellent

The new Performance Centre sits at ease in its historic environment. Its external gardens and courtyards augment the existing landscape and provide linkages along the contours of the campus. Informally arranged around a three-storey gallery, the centre provides a contemporary and creative environment offering a wide range of opportunities for chance meeting and exchange, as well as spaces for dance, theatre and music for both students and the public. Performances from national companies will supplement the work of the college and help to integrate the university with the local community.

Gross Floor Area      4,100sqm
Project Value £15.4m
Status Completed 2010

Nancy Astor Building

Project Information

Plymouth University
BREEAM Very Good


The Nancy Astor building, uniting two contrasting forms on its single plinth of Plymouth limestone, mediates not only between the campus spine and the once forgotten Drakes Place Reservoir, but also between university and town. The sports hall is clad in oak with glazing below, and in sharp contrast a formal composition in Portland stone houses academic offices with a public café and waterside terrace beneath. Each façade is modelled according to aspect, with high-level vents to cool the soffit at night and internal chimneys to serve a low energy assisted natural ventilation system.

Gross Floor Area      4,170sqm
Project Value £7.7m
Status Completed 2008

Connect Seating

Project Information

Burwell Deakins Architects have lead the development of master plans, learning environments and higher education estate strategies and we have become recognised thought leaders in learning and teaching environments. With this wealth of experience designing higher education buildings across a diverse range of universities, we identified a consistent issue with the disconnect between contemporary learning and traditional lecture theatres. During this time we became expert in understanding how learning styles have evolved over time with increased diversity of student intake, and understanding how the environments for which we design needs to accommodate these different styles of learning.

In 2011, we were appointed by Loughborough University as Lead Consultant and Architect to design Loughborough Design School. Burwell Deakins worked with Tony Hodgson (Dean of Loughborough Design School) and Caroline Pepper (Learning Environments Manager) to develop a lecture theatre format that allows this didactic / collaborative learning format. Inspired by the repetitive yet informal geometry of the Giant Causeway, a series of repeat bench units with shared tables snake across the auditorium. This maximises sightlines whilst allowing interchange between didactic an group learning formats without the reorganization of either furniture or student, whilst allowing teaching staff to move between the tables and talk directly to groups of students during collaborative learning periods. We worked with Race Furniture and Jam Tree to identify a pragmatic resolution to overcome the continuing disconnect between contemporary and traditional lecture theatre pedagogies. Reinterpretating traditional bench seating, we created Connect seating, a lecture theatre seating solution that encourages both didactic and collaborative learning. The project went on to win numerous awards, including RIBA East Midlands Building of the Year and FX International Design Award for Workplace Seating. 

Although Connect was founded at Loughborough Design School, we have since used the same concept across various universities including the award winning Exchange for Falmouth University and University of Exeter, The David Kier Hub at Queens University Belfast and we are currently on site at Leeds University incorporating Connect seating into the refurbishment of lecture theatres across the campus including the iconic Grade II listed Roger Stevens building. 

David Keir Student Hub

Project Information
Client Testimonials
Awards and Commendations

Queen’s University Belfast

Working within the circulation patterns of the David Kier Building, the new Student Hub and the revitalised lecture theatre combine to create an “open all hours” collaborative learning environment that extends the use of facilities beyond the standard academic day, providing a new, local, focus for student life. The interconnected levels and seating corrals combine to create a series of spaces that subtly move from public to private.

Status      Completed 2014

"It creates spaces both internal and external which have immediately become popular spaces for students and staff, delivering on the most important criterion for the success of the design - to provide a space where students wish to be." Head of Estates Planning, Queen's University Belfast

Shortlisted for RIBA Northern Ireland Award

Finalist for WAN Education Award

The House

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

Plymouth University

Plymouth University needed a new home for their performing arts programme, which could contribute to the cultural life of the city whilst communicating the work of students and touring companies to a wider audience. The House provides a range of performance, technical and staff spaces, including a “white-box” theatre space, specialist music areas, and a new flexible 300 capacity auditorium. The front of house is arranged as a creative home for students, whilst a staircase winds through the space mediating between the public spaces of Plymouth’s nascent cultural quarter, with informal spaces used by students for creative improvisation and impromptu performance.

Abercrombie Award for Best New Building

Oculus and Octagon Gallery

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

University College London
Grade I Listed building

The project resolves a long running conflict between retaining the statue of St Michael Slaying Satan, whilst reopening the Oculus, at the heart of UCL’s Grade I Listed Wilkins Building. The insertion of a new structural glass plinth supports the statue in its original position, whilst re-opening the oculus reestablishes long lost vistas between the ground floor Octagon Gallery and the cupola topped first floor Flaxman Gallery over. The ground floor Octagon ‘non-space’ is transformed into a museum gallery with the showcases taking reference from plaster reliefs in the adjacent Flaxman Gallery.

Project Value      £0.9m
Status Completed 2012

Camden Business Awards for Best Small Development Scheme

Finalist for Lighting Design Award for Heritage

Highly Commended for Camden Design Award

Shortlisted for AJ Retrofit Award for Heritage 


Science and Engineering Research Support Facility

Project Information

University of Exeter
BREEAM Excellent

The Science and Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF) is the first of a three-phase development at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

The 1,200sqm, two-storey SERSF building has been designed to accommodate a combination of Cat 2 laboratories for offshore renewables and biosciences academics, enabling an expansion of the research led by the Marine Renewables team and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC). The facility will also provide a home for the University of Exeter Business School as it expands into Cornwall. The building also features a dedicated space for business engagement called ‘The Collaboratory’.

The subsequent two phases will each be of a similar size, with ‘knuckles’ between the buildings providing informal hubs that further facilitate multidisciplinary interchange. The resultant asymmetrical plan arrangement provides for a spine of individual office and write-up spaces adjacent to larger flexible open plan research space.

Exposed concrete and extensive solar shading help to keep the building thermally stable, with all the major spaces designed to be capable of being either naturally ventilated or mechanically ventilated with chilled beam cooling. This approach allows minimal use of energy today, and long-term flexibility should the building's function change in the future.

The flat roof has been utilized for photovoltaic distribution along with a zone for open-air research. Material finishes have been carefully chosen for their environmental impact and to enhance the building’s identity on campus. The carpet is appropriately made from 100% recycled fishing nets.

The SERSF was jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£3.9 million) and the University of Exeter (£1.6 million).

Gross Floor Area     
12,000sqm
Project Value 
£5.5m
Status Completed 2015

The Exchange

Project Information
Awards and Commendations

Falmouth University & University of Exeter

The extension to the existing library at the Penryn campus knits together the principles and educational goals of two institutions. Running down the hillside, the interior flows between social eddy pools and informal learning environments. These complement the more formal learning spaces and develop a collaborative cultural life at the heart of the campus. The Exchange will become a part of daily life; a welcoming village street to which students will gravitate naturally, spontaneously, or intentionally, to meet, continue conversations, study, exchange ideas, or seek advice and support.

RIBA South West Award

Commendation for Concrete Society Award for Education