Institute of Cultural Heritage, University College London

This Institute of Cultural Heritage project for UCL was planned as a cultural hub to co-house museums and archives together with social and discussion places including lecture theatres, gallery and café.

Won in competition in 2001, detailed design was completed, planning approval gained, enabling works completed for these proposals before they were unfortunately halted by the global financial events of 2007.

The site occupies a strategic position between the original UCL campus and its expansion to the east of Gordon Street. In contrast to the main entrance to the Wilkins Building off Gower Street, the entrance from Gordon Street is entirely uncelebrated. On the WWII bomb site immediately south of the Bloomsbury Theatre, the proposal was to provide a new gateway to UCL and to identify a clear route across the campus, for the first time, legibly connecting these two addresses.

Programmatically, the building was intended as a repository of the university’s treasures – an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, paintings and the Petrie Collection of ancient Egyptian objects. This was in combination with lecture theatres, a temporary exhibition gallery and a café. The project was therefore a combination of new entrance and cultural ‘shop window’.

It took the form of a monumental ‘portico’ enclosing a glazed ground floor intended for the display of works of art with the presence of the Petrie Collection suggested by the implied sarcophagus or ‘treasure box’ behind the blank stone façade wall.