From the old to the new

Creation of new multi-use space for School of Chemistry students and staff


Joseph Black building multi-use space
New multi-use space in the School of Chemistry

Work finished in November 2017 to transform an uninspiring communal space and three unused labs at the School of Chemistry's, Joseph Black building at King’s Buildings, into a stunning new multi-use space. The project has created a spacious and welcoming light filled multi-use indoor courtyard, complete with high res interactive wall, automatic rain sensing self-closing sky lights and multi-functional furniture; providing much needed student, postgraduate and staff social and study space.

From a design perspective, the challenge was to create a welcoming indoor courtyard space containing multi-function furniture that can be used for dining, study and collaborative working,  whilst giving the feeling that it is an outdoor space. The refurbishment included natural white oak timber finishes, a high resolution large scale digital wall covering, sensitive lighting design, large scale glazed doors, a quiet study room, tea prep area, a preserved moss wall and the replacement of Georgian wired roof lights with rain sensing, automatic opening sky lights and passive vents.

Professor Colin Pulham, Chair of High Pressure Chemistry and Head of the School of Chemistry said: “All of the staff and students in the School of Chemistry are absolutely delighted with the recently refurbished Social and Study Space in the Joseph Black Building, the oldest building on the King’s Buildings campus.  All credit to the design team of George, Adrian, and Lennart for transforming the previously rather uninspiring and under-utilised rooms into such a truly outstanding space.  It is already having a huge positive impact on students and staff in the School”.

Creating this space during term time gave the Estates project team and the contractor, Maxi Construction particular issues as the site was flanked on two sides by high use 100 and 250 capacity lecture theatres. Noise was a potential problem as significant internal structural works were undertaken to open up part of the corridor elevation and to support the roof whilst demolishing a full height central wall. Roof works were also carried out to replace Georgian wired roof lights with rain sensing automatic opening roof lights and passive vents.

Remarkably, no complaints of noisy working were received!!

February 2018