School of Business and Management

Queen Mary University of London

The School of Business and Management (SBM) at Queen Mary University of London is unique in its promotion of social justice, sustainability and good governance as its core principles.

The new building for the School, highly visible at the East gate to the Mile End Campus and facing onto the Regent's Canal, will provide much needed high quality academic and research work-space, teaching spaces tailored to the needs of the School and group learning and study spaces throughout the building.

In 2021 SBM was recognised by the UK's Chartered Association of Business Schools as an exemplary school for its commitment to the public good and SBM ranked no.1 of all business schools for social mobility. In 2021 80% of SBM's undergraduates came from London and 40% from East London. The new facility will allow the School to expand their already significant role in supporting local students, young people and the business community in Tower Hamlets and build upon its recent successes, that includes gaining AACSB accreditation.

In addition to providing the new SBM building, the development will also provide:

  • The refurbishment of the Lock Keeper's Cottage to provide a cafe and bookable event space within an improved landscaped setting
  • A new home for Queen Mary's Legal Advice Centre - that serves both students and local residents - within a retained and re-modelled building fronting onto Mile End Road
  • New improved landscaping between the Novo Cemetery and the Regent's Canal

Image credits: Nicholas Hare Architects & LUC

A fabulous canal-side setting

The new building will be located alongside the Regent's Canal at the Mile End Lock with views across to Mile End Park. Set between canal and Westfield Way the building has both a campus facing side (with the main entrance highly visible from Mile End Road) and a more intimate canal facing side with a canal side entrance a whole storey lower, due to the change in level of the lock. The architecture of the building responds accordingly with a more playful east facing facade contrasting a more civic west facing one.

The canal side path is set to be increased in size whilst maintaining the existing pedestrian route from the East gate heading north along the canal to the Westfield Student Village. Floating landscaping within the canal will enrich the biodiversity and new improved landscaping will enhance the setting of the historic Lock Keeper’s Cottage and Novo Cemetery and provide enjoyable spaces to linger.

The brief for the building was revised following the pandemic and anticipates new ways of working and of learning. The building is arranged over six storeys plus a lower ground lock basin level. The lowest four levels will deliver teaching, group learning and study space, with the upper three levels providing academic and postgraduate work space.

The building massing responds to the two refurbished heritage assets (357 Mile End Road and the Lock Keeper's Cottage) by stepping the upper two storeys back at either end providing a fabulous roof terrace at the southern end with views to the City and Canary Wharf.

Our University sits within a unique place in the East End, and this new, contemporary home for our School of Business and Management will offer significant benefits to Queen Mary students and staff. And it will also benefit the local area through improvements to the public spaces in and around the site during the day. It is an investment in the future of the University and the vital role we are proud to play in East London.
Professor Frances Bowen, Vice-Principal (Humanities and Social Sciences)


Queen Mary’s Mile End campus began life in 1887 as the People’s Palace Technical Schools, soon changing its name to East London College and in 1937, to Queen Mary College (after Queen Mary of Teck, the wife of King George V). This is one of Queen Mary’s four founding institutions and over time, the University has gradually expanded at Mile End to meet the Regent's Canal on its Eastern side. The Regent's Canal opened in 1820 and prior to Queen Mary taking ownership on the canal side area in the 1980s, this stretch of the canal was known as Commercial Wharf and occupied by railway sidings and industrial buildings up until the second world war.

No. 357 Mile End Road which sits at the junction of the Regent's Canal and Mile End Road was built by the Gardner family who operated Commercial Wharf at around the time that the canal was completed. It was altered and partially rebuilt in the 1960-70s and up until recently was used by research groups within the University.

The Lock Keeper's Cottage at Mile End Lock dates from 1865 and is one of only two original surviving lock keeper's cottages on the Regent's Canal. The pumphouse was removed and the current extension was added in 2005 to provide a Graduate Centre for the University. Since the completion of a new Graduate Centre on the campus in 2018 the building has been under-used.

Located within the Tower Hamlets stretch of the Regent's Canal conservation area, a central aim of the project is to provide greater access to the canal side area, respect the heritage setting with high quality new buildings and landscaping and through heritage wayfinding to provide access to heritage information for students, staff and the general public.

Sustainability and biodiversity

The design for the new building prioritises passive design principles, optimising and responding to the site orientation, maximising the potential for natural daylight, natural ventilation and exposed thermal mass of the concrete frame, with nighttime ventilation. And a fabric first approach to achieve a highly insulated, airtight envelope to minimise energy consumption whilst optimising daylight uniformity.

The design team each utilised embodied carbon calculating software to help refine the design at the early stages with a focus on the structural frame, the environmental systems, the facades, and the internal partitions and finishes. The structural frame design was also referenced against design proposals from two years before and showed significant reductions in embodied carbon.

The whole building will be provided with mechanical ventilation (with heat recovery systems). Even to smaller spaces such as academic offices which will rely a lot of the year on natural ventilation through opening windows. This will ensure that in the winter months the whole building can be sealed shut and the heat loss / energy use is minimised, and air quality and thermal comfort maximised.

The London Plan and the Tower Hamlets Local Plan set a high bar for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in use. This will result in a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the 2013 standards and on-site renewable energy systems that include photovoltaic panels and air-source heat pumps. The project is also targeting BREEAM Excellent and to be a LETI (Low Energy Transformation Initiative) Pioneer project which demonstrates best practice in designing for a net zero carbon future.

A key ambition for the project is to revitalise the southeast corner of the campus through the new building along with a significant refurbishment of two existing vacant buildings which will also reduce long term energy use.

The landscape design is central to the proposals and will improve biodiversity through several enhancements that include the creation of a green wildlife corridor between the cemetery and the canal and new canalside floating marginal planting. Rainwater run-off will be attenuated through a mix of SuDS measures including brown roofs, planted swale and permeable paving. Finally, a large new cycle hub will encourage sustainable transport.

Our Team

Project Team

  • Client: Queen Mary University of London
  • Project management: Gardiner & Theobold
  • Cost consultant: Ward Williams Associates
  • Structural and civil engineer: Aecom
  • Environmental services engineer: Buro Happold
  • Landscape architect: LUC
  • Façade consultant: Aecom
  • Fire engineer: Buro Happold
  • BREEAM consultant: Aecom
  • Planning consultant: CBRE
  • Heritage consultant: Alan Baxter Associates
  • Health & Safety: Nicholas Hare Architects