SOAS University of London

In the heart of the Bloomsbury conservation area, SOAS University of London is the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. With 6,300 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying on campus and over 300 academics, it is a very concentrated urban campus.

A serious planning challenge was faced by the proposed upgrading of infrastructure with its requirement for a new gas governor house on a corner of under-utilised public realm adjacent to a busy pedestrian route just off Russell Square. This challenge was transformed by Colour into a golden opportunity to create valuable external space within the SOAS campus and significantly enhance the seating and meeting provision of the university, thus aiding student welfare through making it more attractive for students to spend more time outside.

Surrounded by listed buildings, visually sensitive incorporation of the of the gas governor house was absolutely critical. Working closely with TPM Architects, the height of the structure was minimised, a green roof proposed and Colour developed a holistic solution to the wider space that would meld the old with the new and inspired by the geometric, linear and layered qualities of adjacent 20th Century architecture.

The site is highly complex with multiple constraints including the root protection zone of a protected tree, underground services and tunnels, existing memorial trees and minimising the risk of students climbing on the roof of the new building.


SOAS University of London

Project Team

TPM Studio architects, Faithful & Gould, Robert West


Bloomsbury, London


Planning application submitted

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