36-38 Gordon Square

The retrofit of three listed Georgian townhouses for UCL Estates has transformed historic residential accommodation into a stimulating academic environment for research and teaching - including collaborative work space, academic offices, seminar rooms and social space.

Nos. 36-38 Gordon Square are three linked townhouses at the end of a terrace within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area in the London Borough of Camden. They were built between 1825 and 1831 by the renowned architect-builder, Thomas Cubitt, as part of the residential development of the Bedford Estate. For their connection with Cubitt, external intactness, and the high quality of design and construction, they were listed at Grade II in 1969.

The project has provided an opportunity to rediscover important aspects of internal heritage fabric as well as some focussed amendments and general refurbishment of the external facades.

Heritage transformation

The properties had largely retained their external appearance, and many internal historic features including staircases and decorative plasterwork, although previous internal planning amendments had reduced the coherence of the original plan form.

The high-level design strategy was developed around three principles:

  • Integrity of space: the removal of piecemeal alterations and reinstatement of the original spatial organisation of rooms and restoration of the fabric, including key heritage elements.
  • Circulation: redefine the lateral circulation routes and improve orientation, optimising opportunities for openness, natural light and views out. Reinstate the missing front door and the quality of the original stairs.
  • Section & Storey Heights: develop a pattern of occupation across the floors sympathetic to the relative importance of the original scale and height of the floors.
Preserving and improving UCL’s heritage buildings for the future is an incredibly important part of the way that we look to develop UCL’s estate… The Faculty are delighted with their new building and with the collaborative design process that we’ve shared. Often it is the little things that make a huge difference to our staff and the wider community – somewhere to store your cycling clothing, space for indoor plants, beautiful tiling. All this benefits from being designed in for everything to work in harmony
Chris Shore, Director, Capital Projects - UCL Estates Development

Sustainable retrofit

Through careful specification and sensitive approach to material specification, the project has achieved the highest "gold" SKA rating in the RICS Higher Education Scheme.

Our Team

Project Team

  • Client: University College London (UCL)
  • Project Management: Arcadis
  • Contractor: Overbury
  • Cost Planning: Gardiner & Theobald
  • Services Engineer: Fowler Martin
  • Structural Engineer: Conisbee
  • SKA Assessor: Arup
  • Planning Consultant: Deloitte
  • Fire Consultant: The Fire Surgery
  • Heritage Consultant: Alan Baxter