- Why does LSHTM need to improve its buildings?
Ways of working and studying have changed in recent years and LSHTM’s buildings in central London need to keep up with modern expectations.
The building projects are part of a long-term strategic capital programme to improve LSHTM’s infrastructure and enhance its ability to improve health worldwide.
By transforming existing space and creating brand new facilities such as Tavistock Place 2 (TP2) in Tavistock Place, staff and students will benefit from a high quality, flexible and sustainable environment for research and education.
- Where is the new building (TP2)?
TP2 is a new building for research and education on our Tavistock Place site in Bloomsbury, London. It sits behind an existing LSHTM building known as ‘TP1’ which fronts on to the street at 15-17 Tavistock Place, and replaces a large outbuilding/shed previously used for storage.
TP2 is the first completely new building on LSHTM’s London site since the 1929 art deco Keppel Street building.
- How big is it?
The new building provides 2,512m2 of working space (similar size to existing TP1 Tavistock Place building).
- 6 storeys in total including a basement and five storeys above ground. The top roof level floor is for plant and equipment.
- 167km of cabling throughout TP2 - enough to reach France.
- 27 toilets and 37 wash basins.
- What is the building used for?
More than 200 members of staff working in professional services, education and research – including from the Faculty of Public Health and Policy who were previously in TP1 - are based in offices at TP2. This will free up TP1 for students to benefit from new teaching and learning facilities.
The new building is a key part of LSHTM’s plans for strengthening its teaching and research in public health.
LSHTM trains future global health leaders and supports education and training for key staff in the UK and overseas. Its research shapes public health policy in the UK and around the world, improving hospital and medical practice for patients. Our scientists played a key role in the COVID-19 response and continue to address the most important global challenges in health such as pandemic preparedness and climate and health, working across disciplines with partners in the UK and worldwide.
With improved facilities, scientists at LSHTM can build on their national and international collaborations to work together on finding solutions to major health challenges which affect us all.
- How green is the building?
TP2 has received a rating of Excellent according to the internationally-recognised BREEAM certification of standards for a sustainable built environment. Sustainable construction is an important factor in LSHTM’s work towards its Energy Carbon Management Plan and Heat Decarbonisation Plan.
From the outset, LSHTM set demanding energy and carbon reduction targets as part of its drive for net zero by 2030.
Sustainable design features include:
- Integrated natural, fully recyclable cladding materials.
- Extensive roof planting to enhance the local ecology and biodiversity.
- ‘Blue roof’ for storing and managing rainwater.
- Smart building technologies for low and zonal energy use and includes natural and mixed mode ventilation.
- 138 chilled beams providing ventilation and heating and cooling to the building.
- New solar panels on TP1 roof serve TP2.
- The air handling unit can bring in 3.8m^3 (cubic metres) of air per second and is capable of blowing up a balloon the size of Wembley Stadium in roughly 3.5 days.
- What’s special about TP2?
TP2 is a feat of architectural and building skill due to the nature of the site and its restricted position. Enclosed by buildings in a conservation area in central London, the project was carried out with great care and in conjunction with the local community from the start.
The site is largely hidden from the public by TP1 but still required high quality design to enhance a setting that includes numerous Grade 1 and 2 Listed Buildings.
The architects deployed a concept of “A Bloomsbury Garden” to take the Georgian planning approach of landscaped squares and adapt it for the TP2 site by creating a series of rooftop gardens. The planting, which supports local ecology and biodiversity, can be seen on the terraces rising up the set-back levels of the building. Having the terraces staggered and set back in this way also allows more light into the building and neighbouring properties.
Contrasting with the greenery, the outside of the building has brass cladding that will weather to a rich brown layer, or patina, to complement the 18th century brickwork on the neighbouring Georgian crescent. The 78 screens over the glazing provide extra privacy for neighbours and include a unique feature that ties TP2 in with LSHTM’s heritage in epidemiology.
Artistic nod to legacy of John Snow, the father of epidemiology
Artwork has been laser-cut through the brass screens to allow daylight into the building. The artwork is a weave of abstracted fragments of John Snow’s famous 18th century map that solved the riddle of cholera outbreaks in London and launched the field of epidemiology.
- How much did it cost?
The project cost £35m, with construction costs making up £23m. It was delivered on budget – a huge testament to the team.
- Where did the money come from?
LSHTM provided capital funding support with additional funding coming from a Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) grant and generous philanthropic donations. We are deeply grateful for the support we have received for this project from our philanthropic partners, which was critical in keeping the development moving forward.
- How long did it take?
Planning permission for the new building was granted by Camden Council in 2017 following four years of planning. Building works on the site began in 2018 and continued in phases until completion in 2023 with a short pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Who designed TP2?
- Who built it?
8build created jobs and opportunities for the area by exceeding their target of procuring 10% of goods and services locally and offered apprenticeships in various trades in partnership with local training centres.
- Over 60 separate subcontractors have been appointed by 8build
- Over 1400 site workers were inducted during the build
- There were 150+ people working on site at its peak.
- Although COVID-19 meant work paused temporarily at the start of lockdown, the team adapted to new ways of working and the site was safely up and running when the construction sector was allowed to return to work.
- What were the main challenges?
A plus point of the location is its proximity to strategic partners located within the London Knowledge Quarter. But this also led to certain challenges, notably the constricted nature of the site itself and its location at the heart of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, surrounded by numerous listed and residential buildings. Adjacent properties are less than 2m from the new building to the north perimeter.
The team worked collaboratively with Camden Planning Authority to develop modern but contextual architecture, paying attention to the selection of materials, landscaping and detailing.
The project involved digging underground to maximise the building’s space with a basement.
The 78 privacy fins featuring the John Snow-inspired artwork provide screening between the building and local residents around the north, east and west perimeter.
Access to the site was challenging and construction materials had to be brought through archways in the existing TP1 building. Architect Duncan Leach, BMJ’s Director, described it as “like building a ship in a bottle”. The team also used cranes to deliver to the site over the top of buildings to avoid trying to squeeze through at ground level.
Noise and disruption
Noise and disruption to LSHTM staff in TP1 and neighbouring residents and businesses was controlled as part of the planning permission requirements and the Construction Management Plan (CMP). The team used a range of measures to mitigate the impact such as set working hours, regular communication, monitoring and liaison.
On a busy road, the CMP included extensive requirements around traffic management for construction vehicles and activities to ensure people’s safety and ability to go about their business.
- How did you involve local residents in the project?
LSHTM and the team – including a specialist consultant who led community engagement activities – developed a comprehensive local engagement strategy from the outset and implemented it faithfully throughout. The team worked hard to identify the diverse local community groups, from residents, community and business associations to special interest groups for cycling, local health and conservation, and to consult with them extensively. Find out more in this blog.
The good relationships allowed LSHTM to maximise and make more efficient use of the area while addressing the community's concerns where possible. In particular, a comprehensive CMP was developed to address their concerns in detail. The team maintained regular ongoing community liaison throughout construction to ensure any new issues could be promptly addressed.
Lessons and approaches will be taken forward with the community as plans are made and implemented for the next phase of works at Tavistock Place on the TP1 building's interior.
- What else is happening in the building improvements project?
The interior of TP1, in front of the new building, is to be transformed into a teaching and learning centre, with design work now under way for a completion in 2025.
LSHTM’s historic Keppel Street building, a short walk away from Tavistock Place, is also benefiting from major internal refurbishment including new laboratory facilities, better use of available space and upgrades to the infrastructure.
Activities across the sites will complement and enhance each other to maximise real-world impact. Through research excellence, global reach and impact, LSHTM will continue to work with partners around the world to find solutions to the most important challenges in health and to train the future generation of health leaders.