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marylebone the

University of Westminster


It has been essential to breathe new life into the Marylebone site and create a better sense of identity. This project does that by creating a real heart to the campus. - Trevor Wills, Director of Estate







The Marylebone Project

The Marylebone Project has transformed the University of Westminster‘s central London campus into a modern, vibrant and flexible new learning environment. Home to the Westminster Business School (WBS) and School of Architecture and the Built Environment (SABE), the masterplan was to refurbish and unite the existing university buildings around a new social learning hub.

The ‘Learning Platform’ concept was born: a 1,200m2 space of formal and informal learning and social spaces, to fulfil the University’s vision of a nuturing environment and to change from the ‘learn-and-go’ culture to one of ‘learn, stay, socialise and share. Stage 1 works facilitated consolidation of the WBS onto the campus with the creation of 12 new seminar spaces, administrative and academic offices, and increased the

flexibility and capacity of the campus to facilitate the more significant second stage. Stage 2 works saw the unification of the ground floor into the new ‘Learning Platform’ new learning spaces, lecture theatre, libraries, bookshop, refectory and café. Other works included new offices and replacement roof, glazing, toilets and lift cores and the refurbishment of the fifth and sixth floor ‘super studios’. 2






The concept LECTURE



with learning







above. axonometric of Marylebone Campus; middle right. concept sketches and layout plan of the ‘Learning Platform’; far right. exploded axonometric floor plans.


L6 Super studio

L5 Super studio

L4 Study & Admin









ADMIN L3 Study








SUITE02 03 03






L2 Study

L1 Library

L0 Learning Platform



The entrance and way-finding

The refurbished canopy, new entrance steps and ramp signal the changes made within the building. The reception area has been transformed into a welcoming and vibrant space catering for increased capacity with improved accessibility and security. The reception area now allows direct access into WBS and SABE for public functions but with the main access directly into the ‘social learning’ zone - the heart of the campus. From there, all the new facilities have been arranged to be visible, legible and

accessible with access into the rest of the campus channelled along the ‘street’ and through informal spaces to the different departments. The bridge that once spanned the open air podium deck has been picked out within the new social learning space and clad on the underside with random slats of timber that serve to aid navigation and orientation along a north south axis and encourage the visitor into the refectory. The ‘blade’ works in a similar manner along the east west axis bringing natural light and ventilation to ‘the street’ and

adjoining seminar and lecture rooms and encourages visitors to the two schools on either side of the entrance. The use of a simple palette of materials and a combination of natural and artificial lighting features differentiates elements and spaces within the open plan social learning space. The use of glass screens, with visual links to the street outside, and ‘landmark’ furniture aid orientation and assist navigation throughout.

ground floor

opposite. far left. concept sketch of proposed light scoop - ‘blade’; top left. entrance, reception and security line; this page. top and middle. the east-west street beneath the light scoop or ‘blade’; bottom. view from the ‘Learning Platform towards the entrance and under the ‘bridge’.



ground floor

opposite page and below. a combination of formal and informal study areas throughout the Learning Platform; below. ‘drop-in’ desk seating adjacent to distinct furniture solutions for individual study.

The Learning Platform

From the outset the ‘Learning Platform’ concept was to create a social heart to the campus, encourage community spirit where ideas are shared amongst peers, between students and staff and amongst academics. The aim was to create a sense of place, a place of belonging, a place where people would want to be. The Learning Platform Concept therefore placed the student, staff and academic experience as a priority. Key to this ethos was ensuring

the campus was tolerant to future change; ensuring flexibility and anticipating ways in which learning might evolve. The Learning Platform is an IT rich environment that supports and facilitates the shift towards more individual based learning solutions. It is also ‘client’ focused; increasing what is on offer to students and staff with new improved café, refectory, bookshop and support facilities. 8


The refectory and café

The refectory is a key function in the ‘Learning Platform’, providing much needed variety and choice of refreshment. Offering everything from coffee and pastries to full healthy meals the refectory is the cornerstone of the social learning element.

Clean lines, robust materials, subtle use of colour and plenty of natural daylight all support the new health agenda that the university is promoting.

Encouraging students and staff to stay on campus between lectures and seminars, the refectory promotes a greater feeling of community and encourages communication and interaction between staff and students.

The introduction of café incentives such as ‘Breakfast Club’, early morning opening times and discounts encourages a more intensive 24/7 use of the campus. This allows students the opportunity of a healthy start to the academic day which will ultimately affect their performance.

ground floor

There was nowhere to sit. People literally used to sit on the floor and in the corridors and on the stairs. So instead I used to read online journals at home where I knew I had a place to work.

left. refectory; banquet seating below the light scoop within the refectory. this page. below. views through the main refectory including servery and cafĂŠ neo.

- David, Post Graduate - Finance and Accounting



Seminar and post-graduate space

The strategy was to remove layers of tired and neglected finishes implemented over the years, expose the original fabric, regain the big volumes and compliment the original features such as the parquet floor and concrete finishes with new fresh interventions. Dark uninspiring classrooms have been transformed into state-of-the art learning spaces with integrated audio-visual IT systems for lecturer and students complimented by improved daylighting, ventilation and acoustic attenuation. Exposed concrete soffits contrast with glazed screens that use super-graphic to ensures sufficient privacy for users and minimises ‘distraction’ between spaces. Forming a key feature of the WBS, the post-graduate suite is independent of yet adjacent to the Learning Platform. Fronting Marylebone Road the suite is a flexible space available for high profile lectures as well as third leg income when not in core academic use.

top left. new glazed walls and ‘supergraphics’ to each of the 12 new seminar rooms; bottom left. well lit and ventilated seminar rooms below. exposed concrete soffits, suspended acoustic baffles, suspended light fittings and glazed corridor wall; below right. post graduate seminar rooms.

ground and upper floors



ground and first floor

This year, after the refurbishment, the usual increased stress levels did not occur; the calming influence of the fit-out, extra provision and variety of study spaces made for a better term. - Alice - Marylebone Campus Librarian

Libraries and bookshop

The library spaces perform a critical role in the Learning Platform. The first floor library has been refurbished and extended down into the ground floor. With new lighting, improved ventilation, acoustic attenuation and creative furniture solutions, the new library is a calm yet vibrant environment with an increased capacity. The library reception has been brought down to the ground floor to increase library space at the upper level and to foster greater connectivity with the social learning

space. Located on ‘the hill’, the prominent library entrance is also next to the bookshop creating a dynamic between the two. The bookshop is an integral piece of the Learning Platform jigsaw, providing a direct service to the students. It is located on the main route into the two principle lecture theatres and opposite the café to capture the footfall and potential clientele. The book shop is designed to be a highly visible and vibrant place with a full-height glazed shop front to allow greater exposure of its offer.

opposite page top left. open plan study area within the library, exposed soffits, acoustic baffles and low energy lighting; bottom left. private study within the study pods; below. formal desks and informal study pods for different study; this page. the new book shop. 14


Multi-use rooms and lecture theatre

From the street it looked old fashioned, it didn’t really represent us very well to passers-by. - William - Post Graduate Marketing Management

above and right. multi-use rooms and various layouts with views out to Marylebone Road; opposite page above. The Harvard style lecture comprises a simple palette of materials and colour keeps the space vibrant yet maintains the focus on the lecturer and the teaching.

Through the re-organisation of activities within the campus, teaching spaces have been moved to the front of the site becoming the ‘shop window’ on Marylebone Road. This increased presence serves to increase awareness of the university activities as well as the status of the institution. The layout of the spaces is such that it can operate in a cellular arrangement or be opened up to the social learning space. Integrated storage solutions,

built in kitchenettes, quality finishes and vibrant furniture all project a professional atmosphere to the users and passers-by. Lecturers now need to perform not only for their immediate audience but also the public outside. The new lecture theatre is modelled on the innovative ‘in the round’ Harvard style lecture theatre. The curved nature and gentle rake seating generates a more engaging atmosphere. Here lecturers can

interact with their students with the support of fully-integrated IT facilities, resulting in a showcase space for the University. The vibrant and quality choice of colour and materials continues that professional feel that contributes further to the university’s diversification and source of ‘third leg’ income from third parties wanting to rent the space.

ground floors



Break-out spaces and kitchenettes

Following the theme set by the multi-use/lecture and seminar rooms, the adjacent informal break-out spaces allow students to gather and exchange ideas before and after lectures. Rather than ‘learn and go’ students remain on the campus to learn, share and socialise. Key to the success of these spaces is the subtle changes to furniture, fittings and finishes. Robust yet comfortable chairs, domestic style

pendant light fittings, parquet or carpet flooring creates a more informal feel and character to the spaces. Kitchenettes provide staff with facilities in which to make refreshments. Local to the academic and staff bases, this investment has enabled a more effective review of academic space and activity overall, allowing a reduction in the office space area in line with current sectorwide standards.

Circulation and toilets

Vibrant, robust and well located throughout the campus, new toilets were designed to contribute significantly to the improved campus experience. Circulation spaces have been enhanced with a light touch approach through improved artificial and natural lighting, decor and graphics. ‘Character’ areas are established

through improved signage, ‘supergraphics’ and colour to maintain orientation and help navigation. Probably the biggest win and added value was achieved by introducing glazing to the interface between central corridors and adjoining spaces, allowing natural light into previously dark uninspiring spaces.



marylebone the

University of Westminster


Architecture & Design The Old School Exton Street London SE1 8UE 020 7261 9577

Project: Location: Client: Contractor: GIA: Project value: Project Manager: Structural Engineers: M&E Consultant: Quantity Surveyor: CDM Co-ordinator:

The Marylebone Project Marylebone, London University of Westminster Vinci Construction 10,660m² £20m Mace Curtins Consulting URS Scott Wilson Davis Langdon AECOM Frankhams


The University of Westminster Marylebone Project by Rock Townsend  

An insight into the the Learning Platform initiative at the University of Westminster's Marylebone Campus.

The University of Westminster Marylebone Project by Rock Townsend  

An insight into the the Learning Platform initiative at the University of Westminster's Marylebone Campus.