Saw Swee Hock Centre, London

Project team

Client:London School of Economics

Architect:O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects

Structural Engineer:Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners/Horganlynch Consulting Engineers

Main Contractor:Geoffrey Osborne Limited

This 6,000m2 seven-storey student centre was built to satisfy LSE’s brief for a naturally ventilated and naturally lit building. The centre is multi-use and holds a pub, offices and a gym among other vital spaces for an educational institute.

Aside from the brick craftsmanship on the exterior, other features include a beautifully designed helical concrete staircase which adorns the building and is a strong architectural element.

The staircase was specified to include 50% GGBS and more limestone fines were added to lighten the appearance of the stairs, see the summer 2014 edition of Concrete Quarterly for an analysis of this feature.

Concrete has a dominant presence throughout with reinforced concrete, exposed concrete ceilings and floor slabs. The building stayed cool throughout the summer months due to the thermal mass provided by the concrete.

Concrete slabs can be found at each floor level and the concrete ceilings add to the great acoustics, along with the suspended acoustic clouds. Recycled GGBS was also used for the in-situ concrete floor plates.

Owing to these features, versatility in the design of the building had to be adhered to alongside the constant of a strong and sustainable structure.

The student centre achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating and a contributing factor of this is the thermal mass of the building. The end result has met the specifications and much more, as the London student centre became a focal point for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize competition.


Awards: RIBA Stirling Prize Nominated