LSE's Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

Posted on July 10, 2015 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

 

A few months ago, I walked past a non-orthogonal shaped brick building in Holborn that caught my attention. Later, I learnt that this striking Riba Stirling Prize-nominated building is London School of Economics' Saw Swee Hock student centre designed by Irish architectural practice O'Donnell + Tuomey (Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey) completed in 2014.

And when I found out the architects were conducting a guide tour of the building followed by a talk as part of the London festival of architecture, I was eager to sign up for this event.

 

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

 

Given the limitations of the site, the architects did an outstanding job in creating an original building that merges well with its surroundings. At the beginning of the tour, the architects lead us down the adjacent streets and explained how the streetscape played the part in shaping the building.

The multifunctional building accommodates a large music venue, pub, cafe, multi-faith centre, dance studios, careers library, gym and offices. It is designed with accessibility and inclusive design as key considerations.

 

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre Saw Swee Hock Student Centre london view

 

This building can be seen as a homage to brick and bricklaying craftsmanship. There are 46 standard shape bricks and 127 specially designed and shaped ones. A total of 173,377 solid and perforated (allowing daylight in) bricks were precisely mapped on the facade before construction began. Inside, the building is supported by steel columns and concrete, it also feels airy and bright as a result of the floor to ceiling windows.

 

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I especially love the concrete staircases. The angular staircases act as a prominent feature over several floors, but on the top floors and basement, they are replaced by spiral ones. The beauty of concrete is accentuated through the meticulous design.

 

Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey

Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey

 

This building somewhat reflects the impression I received from the Irish couple: humble, unconventional and heedful. Unlike many conspicuous buildings designed by celebrity architects these days, this building pays respect to its surroundings, it is functional, user-friendly and yet original. Our city needs more buildings like this rather than glass skyscrapers that convey the ego and ambition of the property developers, architects and capitalists.

 


This post was posted in London, Architecture, Talks, Design, Contemporary, Irish design and was tagged with London, talks, London festival of architecture, contemporary architecture, Irish design

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