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Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

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The Bartlett’s history and culture has been shaped by its presence in Bloomsbury, London. Here are short stories of six buildings it still occupies today.

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

Tavistock Square, photographed in August 2011.

Credit: UCL Image Store

34 Tavistock Square

The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) is based in a terraced house on the west side of Tavistock Square. The terrace was built on the Bedford estate in 1825–7 by George Anstey and James Alexander Frampton, who took the houses from the master builder and speculator Thomas Cubitt.

As their surveyor Anstey and Frampton engaged Lewis Vulliamy, who was developing a large and fashionable practice. Vulliamy also produced plans for houses on the north side of Tavistock Square and around the corner in Endsleigh Place. The row on the west side of Tavistock Square is composed of 17 three-bay terraced houses with a neoclassical front adorned with giant Ionic pilasters, a balustraded parapet and a projecting centre with engaged Ionic columns. In the words of the architectural historian Hermione Hobhouse, “Vulliamy re-vamped the design and made it very much more interesting without changing the details” set by the Bedford Estate Office.

The houses have round-arched entrances accessed by stepped bridges over basement areas and first-floor wrought-iron balconies. The DPU transferred to 34 Tavistock Square in 2007 from 9 Endsleigh Gardens, which had been its home for 30 years. The unit was previously based in Percy Street and, before that, Bedford Square.

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

The Bartlett Library at Central House.

Credit: Tim Crocker

Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place

Central House is located on the east side of Upper Woburn Place, immediately to the south of St Pancras New Church. This dignified neo-Georgian block occupies the site of Woburn Lodge (c.1824, demolished c.1929), a two-storey stuccoed house designed by William Inwood and Henry William Inwood, who oversaw plans for the church.

The present 1930s building comprises five main storeys, with a basement and two rows of dormers perched on a steeply pitched roof. An orderly seven-bay front is of stone and brick, adorned by balustrades, a pedimented balcony, and neoclassical detailing. From its completion, Central House was occupied as an office block by various companies and organisations. The building was acquired by UCL in 2008.

A number of The Bartlett’s departments transferred from Wates House to Central House from 2011, following a refurbishment overseen by the architects Levitt Bernstein. The later conversion of the ground floor for The Bartlett Library was overseen by the architects Hawkins\Brown, and completed in 2014.

The move to Central House facilitated the retrofit and extension of Wates House, now known as 22 Gordon Street. The building is currently occupied by The Bartlett’s School of Planning, Energy Institute, Institute for Sustainable Heritage, Institute for Sustainable Resources, and Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering.

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

90 Tottenham Court Road.

Credit: UCL Image Store

90 Tottenham Court Road

The Bartlett’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is based in a large 1960s block on the west side of Tottenham Court Road. CASA was formed in 1995 as a free-floating centre directed by Michael Batty – at that time UCL’s Professor of Spatial Analysis and Planning. The centre was initially allocated space in the basement of 1–19 Torrington Place, then also occupied by The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies and Space Group (now known as the Space Syntax Laboratory).

The block was then known as Philips House, as it was largely occupied by the well-known electronics company of the same name. A basement loading area for vans was converted into an open-plan office for CASA between 1995 and 2000. The centre remained at Torrington Place until late 2010, when it was transferred to Tottenham Court Road.

CASA briefly occupied rooms on the first floor of 175–176 Tottenham Court Road, an office block roughly opposite its current premises. Since 2011, CASA has occupied an open-plan office on the first floor of 90 Tottenham Court Road.

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

Maple House, Tottenham Court Road.

Credit: Stephen Richards / Creative Commons

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

Photograph of 56–59 Russell Square shows the buildings' terracotta decoration.

Credit: UCL Image Store

Maple House, 149 Tottenham Court Road

The Bartlett’s Institute for Global Prosperity has offices in this substantial building that occupies a large site on the east side of Tottenham Court Road, near to its junction with Euston Road. This block was completed in 1976 to designs by Richard Seifert & Partners, an architectural practice that developed a name for office developments in post-war London.

One of 10 children of a Jewish-Swiss cinema manager, Seifert won a scholarship to The Bartlett School of Architecture in 1927 at the age of 16 and graduated in 1933. After an apprenticeship as a trainee surveyor and architectural assistant, Seifert established his own firm which expanded rapidly with the boom in commercial developments in the capital after the Second World War. Between 1955 and 1969, the size of the practice soared from 12 employees to more than 300. Seifert speculated that the practice produced designs for more than 700 office blocks, including Centre Point and Tower 42.

Maple House was designed for Maple & Co., a furniture store that was established in Tottenham Court Road in the early 19th century and rose to become a household name. Seifert & Partners produced designs for a large mixed-use complex, with a ground-floor shop intended for Maple & Co., tenanted offices, flats, a basement car park and an east wing containing a laboratory for University College Hospital. The exterior of the building is clad with polished grey granite quarried from Rivière-à-Pierre in Canada.

55–56 Russell Square

The Bartlett’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) is located at 55–56 Russell Square, a terraced house on the south side of the large and leafy Bloomsbury square. Russell Square was laid out on the Bedford estate from 1800 by the architect-surveyor James Burton, described by the architectural historian Howard Colvin as “the most enterprising and successful London builder of his time”. Nos 52–60 Russell Square are thought to have been built from 1800 to 1803. The original terraced houses survive, but the north fronts were embellished by the application of pink terracotta in the 1890s under the direction of P. E. Pilditch. This alteration was perhaps inspired by the appearance of the Russell Hotel, the elaborate red-brick and terracotta block on the east side of the square.

Bartlett Buildings: A Walk Around Bloomsbury

Gordon House, photographed in 1998.

Credit: UCL Image Store

Gordon House, 29 Gordon Square

The Bartlett also occupies space in Gordon House on the east side of Gordon Street. This four-storey building with a basement was constructed c.1936 as an extension to Nos 29–30 Gordon Square, which were simultaneously converted into offices for the Associations of Assistant Masters and Assistant Mistresses in Secondary Schools. These separate trade unions eventually merged to form the Assistant Masters’ and Mistresses’ Association, later known as the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

The architectural firm Thomas Martin & Co. produced designs for an austere five-bay front overlooking Gordon Street. Embellishment was restricted to a raised porch and a projecting cornice. The University of London acquired the freehold of the building in 1951, yet it was not converted to university use until around 1985.

The Bartlett’s Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment transferred to offices in Gordon House in July 2017, before it joined The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management at 1−19 Torrington Place last autumn. 29 Gordon Square is currently occupied by UCL Urban Laboratory and the Heritage Science Laboratory, a highly specialised space designed to facilitate research on historic objects and environments. The basement laboratory contains specialist equipment for analysis and experiments, along with a large archive of historic materials, photographs and objects.

The Bartlett Buildings series is produced by Amy Smith, Historian, Survey of London, part of The Bartlett School of Architecture.

The Bartlett is UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment, comprising 12 multidisciplinary schools, institutes and centres. Find out more: https://ucl.ac.uk/bartlett

Get in touch

Contact us

The Bartlett, UCL
22 Gordon Street
London WC1H 0QB

+44 (0)20 7679 2000

bartlett100@ucl.ac.uk
ucl.ac.uk/bartlett


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