Educational Buildings

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building.jpg

Location: Uxbridge, London, UK.
Developer: Brunel University
Contractor: ARJ Construction
Architect / Photography Client: Sheppard Robson

Delving once again into the architectural photographers archive here is yet another project I have unearthed; Brunel University’s refurbished Wilfred Brown Building by the London-based Sheppard Robson architectural practice. Almost immediately after completing the photography of One Creechurch Place in late 2017 for the same client another completed project awaited me, this time in the form of the Wilfred Brown Building which houses the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences for Brunel University. The project can be found situated amongst the University’s large campus located on the fringe of West London in the town of Uxbridge.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 2.jpg

The Wilfred Brown Building was originally delivered by Sheppard Robson in 1968 followed by a rooftop extension in 1990. Like many Universities, findings itself amidst a flux of expansion in student numbers and a need to accommodate cutting edge learning facilities Brunel commissioned a modernisation of the building. Relieved of its aging skin the structure was stripped back to its concrete frame and re-clad with a ‘saw tooth’ facade, which according to Sheppard Robson is comprised of a ‘north-west facing clear glazing and west, south-west facing glazing with interstitial architectural mesh to provide solar shading’. Situated above this is a crown of perforated profiled metal which compliments the glazing below.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 3.jpg

The building, situated on the universities western boundary is accompanied by a quaint pond - home to several ducks and a scattering of Water Lilies - creating an idyllic microcosm amidst the hustle and bustle of campus activity. For any trivia buffs, an episode of the BBC comedy Cuckoo was filmed outside the building when the families son attended an unnamed University. When photographing the building it came to my attention that one of the aesthetic qualities the jagged facade expertly accentuates is a reflected sunset, as seen in the Miami-esque shades of pink and orange intermittently captured along the glazed panels.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 4.jpg

Internally the building is fitted out by Sheppard Robson’s interior design department ID:SR. Due to its multiple uses, a variation in the design elements and application of colour make an intuitive and easily navigable space. Corridors and open spaces are punctuated by both private and public study areas, formed from colourful sofas and chairs which offer both comfort and a level of concealment. Other rooms are home to more specialised equipment, assessment, interview and meeting rooms, as well as several large spaces for lectures and faculty meetings. As when having photographed other University buildings in the past, a brief exposure to campus life is enough to draw on a sense of nostalgia for a simpler, more fun, albeit debt driven way of life, compelling one to abandoned the strictures and ennui of working life and take up a lengthy degree course.

The Sammy Ofer Centre by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Marylebone Road, Paddington, London.
Developer: London Business School
Contractor: Wates Construction
Photography Client / Architect: Sheppard Robson

London based architectural practice Sheppard Robson recently completed a major renovation of the Old Marylebone Town Hall transforming it into a new, expaned faculty for the London Business School. The Sammy Ofer Centre - named in honour of the late Sammy Ofer, the celebrated Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist - contains many new facilities including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and student lounge. The projects most distinctive external feature is the new glass and steel entrance which links the Old Town Hall to the Annex buildings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

I was commissioned by Sheppard Robson architects to photograph several specific views externally, along with some interior shots that matched up identically in composition and framing to a series of black and white originals taken many years previously and held in the RIBA's photographic archive. Unfortunately I don't have access to these images presently so am unable provide side by side comparisons.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

At the buildings rear are further contrasts between the old and new elements; in front of the new atrium is a lone retained arch and further down, an new angular limestone and glass curtain wall which nudges up to the original more ornate stonework. Housed within this new structure are the six lecture theaters, the largest two of which conjoin to create a space with the capacity to seat 200 students.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

Sheppard Robsons' interior design team ID:SR worked on the buildings internal fit out which comprises new modern spaces alongside retained, renovated elements of the original Old Marylebone Town Hall. There is a level opulence befitting of the schools prestigious reputation and the new furnishings work in harmony with the more classical elements of the original structure.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The irregular floor plan of the original building, with its alcoves and long narrow corridors has been utilised by ID:SR to great affect; creating areas for private discussion and study alongside other more open, less defined spaces which are more likely to promote encounters among students and hence being conducive to the exchange of ideas and discussion - an integral function of a business school.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The new lecture theaters, of which there are six, are strikingly modern with wooden panels and strip-lighting traversing the walls and ceiling, ebbing out jagged contours which follow the dynamic alignment of seating below. All of this is reminiscent of some of the grand architectural designs found in modern philharmonic halls and theater spaces.

The buildings scale is hard to comprehend externally, compounded by the many divisions of its internal space to incorporate a variety of uses throughout. The fact that there is a harmony of contrasts within, and on the outside, is testament to  Sheppard Robson Architects careful and considered approach to the renovation. More images of this building can be found in under my projects.