© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett
© Valerie Bennett

Princes Gardens

The clean-cut lines of the staggered stone panels, timber cladding and brickwork which adorn our addition to Princes Gardens provide a fitting replacement to the tall and imposing residential blocks. We upgraded the facilities following a number of surveys and employed a design which blended with its surroundings.

A row of 1960s concrete blocks, owned by Imperial College, flanked this square adjacent to the Exhibition Road, and although listed, this was becoming dilapidated and offered little to attract potential students. Structural problems, a poor fire strategy, water penetration and cold bridging issues were amongst the College’s reasons for choosing replacement over renovation.

Our new design provided over 32,000 m² of residential space and associated amenities within three independent structures alongside each other. These run three storeys lower than the previous block, to provide an elevation more in keeping with its historic setting.

A service tunnel ran close to the existing foundations at basement level, and provided utilities for adjacent buildings; this had to stay unaffected by the project, and temporary measures were necessary in some locations, so we adopted a phased demolition process down to ground floor level prior to the main contract works.
We used ground modelling to predict the amount of heave following demolition, inputting differing values for stiffness of the surrounding ground. We were able therefore to predict maximum and minimum movements, and adopted this in the design of a raft which we cast over the existing foundations to spread the loads uniformly.

We introduced modern methods of construction to the new superstructure, including a ‘tunnel wall’ and slab system, whereby both walls and slabs were poured in tandem over a 24-hour period. This method provided future flexibility through the use of wide-span cellular modules, the interiors of which could be changed as necessary, and inherent advantages in thermal massing and acoustic performance.

Attractive new residential units and associated amenities for Imperial College

London, UK
Imperial College London
£ 60 million
32,000 m²
2008 – 2009 (phased)
  • 2012 Civic Trust Award
  • 2010 BCI Major Projects Award – Shortlisted
  • 2010 BCI Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award – Shortlisted