31 – Brutalist Brunel

Discovery Trail 31 (Lecture Centre Foyer, photographic display of images from the University Archives)

The Lecture Centre designed by Richard Sheppard and John Stillman.

31 Lecture Centre from West sideBrunel University London’s Uxbridge campus, once called ‘a bloody awful site’ by our architect, Richard Sheppard, has transformed dramatically since its first buildings were erected. The campus evolved from the 1868 Lowe and Shawyer nursery through a series of new modernist/brutalist style buildings, including the central lecture block, to become a campus fit for the twenty-first century.

Completed in September 1968 the Lecture Centre is one of Brunel’s most used buildings and contains over 60 lecture theatres and classrooms. Richard Sheppard developed his plan for the campus to ensure that the University community was not more than a short walking distance from the centre. The student residential accommodation sat at the north of the main core of the campus, with administrative and academic buildings located to the south.

The Lecture Centre was designed to accommodate a variety of teaching spaces. On the first and second floors were six large lecture theatres with another 16 smaller rooms down the spine of the building. On the third floor, several offices housed the television centre and its associated workshops – now Media Services. The north end of the building offered a spacious concourse which provided some social space with refreshment facilities.

In 2001, refurbishment of the Lecture Centre started. The scheme, designed by Building Design Partnership (BPD), re-vamped eight rooms, with new audio-visual equipment installed. The lobby area was later upgraded to a new glass foyer; lecture theatres were updated to be more stylish, clean and minimalist, including new seating with tip‑down writing blocks. The ceiling throughout the building reverted back to the original exposed concrete; two new lifts were installed at the front of the building, and a major audio-visual upgrade in all parts of the building was carried out.

The Lecture Centre now enjoys state-of-the-art facilities and improved access for disabled students.

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