LSBU Public Realm, Urban

London South Bank University: Student Centre project represents the first ‘anchor’ within London South Bank University’s Estate Strategy to revitalise the campus with enhanced public realm improving connections and legibility between campus and urban fabric of the area. The site comprises the northern and eastern corner of the London South Bank University campus adjacent to Borough Road and Southwark Bridge Road.

The proposed development consists of infilling the undercroft area below the Tower Building to provide new student and support facilities and important public realm entrances from Borough Road & Kell Street. At present the undercroft site has a cold and unwelcoming feel with a defensive landscape of tall security railings only accessible by card entry. A number of quality London Plane trees line Borough Road and more varied planting of Alder, Sweet gum & Beech create a strong tree framework but also add to a shady site.

The landscape design strategy aims to create a more attractive public realm with an ‘outward-looking’ campus with a very special sense of place with life and activity to the enhanced Kell Street and Public Square on Borough Road.  Using a high quality palette of materials inspired by the history and heritage of the site with semi mature tree planting and rich sensory shrub and herbaceous perennial beds to promote and enhance biodiversity for urban ecology.

Drawing inspiration from history, most notably David Bomberg – one of the Whitechapel Boys – who taught in the 1960’s in the surrounding buildings, the aim for the rejuvenated public realm gateway is to be a dynamic ‘carpet’ of quality natural stone that draws out the strong geometry of the undercroft structure into the landscape.  This rigidity of structure is fractured and exploded with highlights of lighting, large highlights of contrasting paving and benches that draw pedestrians in from Borough Road but also allow for colonisation and use throughout the day.

Client: London South Bank University
Architects: Hawkins\Brown
Landscape Budget: £0.7 million
Status: Completed December 2012
Awards Winner of a 2014 Landscape Institute Award
Winner of a 2013 AJ Retrofit Award
Shortlisted for 2013 Design Week Awards Shortlisted for 2013 RIBA London Award

©Tim Crocker

“B|D Landscape Architects have given us a great service and we enjoyed working with them and they worked well as part of the design team. Their design has totally complemented the interior design and imaginatively they have referenced a famous 1930’s artist whose work is publicly displayed in an adjacent University building as inspiration when designing the hard landscape and external lighting.”

— Roger Tuke, Head of Development,
London South Bank University

©Tim Crocker