Imperial College’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has a worldwide reputation for excellence. The Skempton Building, on Imperial College’s South Kensington campus, houses concrete testing facilities, lecture theatres and classrooms. Our design and refurbishment project was the first stage in a wider master-plan to upgrade the campus.
Our £13m contract was divided into three phases: the first to structurally refurbish the existing concrete testing workshop; the second to strip out the teaching spaces and create new laboratory spaces; and the third to create a new lecture theatre and additional teaching spaces.
The building remained occupied and in use throughout the 18month programme of works, so careful timetabling and observation of stringent noise and access restrictions was critical, aided by close liaison with the university.
In order to put in a new mezzanine floor in the concrete testing workshop we needed to strengthen the double-height steel structure and incorporate a new steelwork support structure and concrete slab. The design stage involved a great deal of investigation works as there were no construction records for the building.
The new workshop included office and teaching accommodation, storage and further offices over two mezzanine floors provided in a double-height space, and light refurbishment of some existing areas to provide a fully-serviced environment and more office and concrete preparation areas. The services installation and final commissioning was a precision operation as the allowable fluctuation in temperature was extremely small. Needless to say, this area was subject to close scrutiny during validation.
Creating the new lecture theatre and adjacent teaching space involved more structural work. After extensive investigation and design work we used reinforced concrete to create a double-height stair-core, using a design which would allow its future extension into the space above and support for the existing slab edges.
The lecture theatre’s services infrastructure was routed through the high level ceiling void: an airtight plenum directly beneath the theatre featuring more than 200 apertures in the slab to allow fresh air movement. Finally we fitted out the theatre and teaching spaces.
The result is a bright and modern facility suitable for training, seminars, meetings and conferences. Some classrooms will seat almost 100 and are flexible enough to be opened up into larger spaces, suitable for breakout zones from a larger conference held in the stylishly decorated lecture theatre.
“OUR DESIGN AND REFURBISHMENT PROJECT WAS THE FIRST STAGE IN A WIDER MASTER-PLAN TO UPGRADE THE CAMPUS.”