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Bartlett Buildings: Here East

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Here East in east London is The Bartlett’s newest space – and one of its most ambitious.

Bartlett Buildings: Here East

The yard and front entrance of the 6,200 sqm Here East space in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Credit: Jack Hobhouse

Bartlett Buildings: Here East

Students in the open-plan workshop at the front of the building.

Credit: Richard Stonehouse

“The Here East facilities are all about challenging boundaries – between disciplines, faculties and departments, and practices and pedagogies. We have brought together parts of UCL that research the way that technologies are changing what people can do. We are looking at the human senses and capabilities as these are modified by technology and the environment: from light and sound to the smell of heritage; from interactive structures and tele-robotics to performative materials; and from the value of design and placemaking to sustainable communities. Here East is a 21st century alchemist’s crucible.”

This description of The Bartlett’s new space in east London by Professor Alan Penn, Dean of the Bartlett, encapsulates the opportunities offered by UCL’s first significant footprint beyond Bloomsbury.

In autumn 2017, The Bartlett opened a new facility at Here East, located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford. Here East comprises three modern blocks originally built as press, media and broadcast centres for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The regeneration of these temporary buildings was led by the real estate investors Delancey, and master-planned and designed by the architectural practice Hawkins\Brown, who took inspiration from neighbouring Hackney Wick’s tight-knit configuration of light industrial factories and yards. The complex is occupied by a diverse group of tenants in the spheres of technology, media, education and the arts.

The Bartlett occupies a central portion of the former International Broadcast Centre, originally built as a temporary structure to designs by Allies and Morrison. For Hawkins\Brown, the challenge was to make this utilitarian steel-framed shed, with a vast rectangular footprint (100 metres long, 40 metres wide and 10 metres high) habitable, comfortable and safe. Mezzanine levels were inserted and the perimeter of the building given a glass façade for natural light and views.

Bartlett Buildings: Here East

The tiered seats of the auditorium are covered in sunshine yellow rubber, inspired in part by Cedric Price's 1961 Fun Palace.

Credit: Richard Stonehouse

Bartlett Buildings: Here East

Drawing of the auditorium space.

Credit: Hawkins\Brown

Encouraging disruptive behaviour

The plan was devised with flexibility and future adaptability in mind. The ground floor contains an assortment of studio space, offices and laboratories. A large auditorium with tiered seating for approximately 330 people may be partitioned into a series of spaces for seminars and meetings. A double-height area for manufacturing and testing lies at the core of the building, surrounded by a suite of smaller studios. These highly specialised spaces are equipped with fabrication tools for robotics, 3D printing and scanning, CNC milling, water jet and laser cutting. Environmental control has been secured by artificial lighting and ventilation.

The complex contains The Bartlett’s B-made workshop, the Mobile Heritage Lab, and The Bartlett Lighting Simulator operated by the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE). Studio spaces are also provided for the Engineering and Architectural Design MEng (a pioneering collaboration between the School of Architecture, IEDE and UCL’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering), the Design for Manufacture MArch, and the Design for Performance and Interaction McArch programmes. The site’s cutting-edge facilities also made it possible for the School of Architecture to launch a MArch and MSc in Bio-integrated Design in 2018. Writing in the RIBA Journal in April 2019, journalist Stephen Cousins said of Here East that “the sheer number of activities and technologies is vertigo-inducing, but diversity can be a catalyst for creative disruption”.

The Bartlett Real Estate Institute is located on the first floor of the building, along with two Harvard-style lecture theatres with a horseshoe arrangement of tiered benches. These central rooms are encircled by lounge areas, study booths, offices and meeting rooms. Envisioned as a space for learning and collaboration between departments, faculties and external organisations, The Bartlett shares Here East with UCL’s Computer Science and Centre for Medical Computing, the Global Disability Innovation Hub, and Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering.

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:

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