The Saw Swee Hock student centre for London School of Economics is an example of a small to medium sized project that has been well thought out for its physical experience and environmental impact.
View of the building
Sustainability performance being the key criteria, the design incorporates intricately woven solid and perforated surfaces, with large areas of transparent glazing for daylight consideration – a pivotal feature in the generation of the tapering building form (carefully tailored to reduce the impact of its volume on the lighting levels in the surrounding buildings – becoming narrower as it rises). The niches that push in provide shading to the wall planes and permit cross ventilation, while increasing walkway space on the ground. Natural untreated materials like timber joinery, hand-made bricks and zinc roofs referred from the Green Guide, are used to embody the dynamic architectural character.
Located on an irregular plot at the intersection of two streets, the building is surrounded by structures that are neo classical in style. This building although completely different in design and aesthetics, manages to blend into the gap left by the existing buildings mainly due to its careful geometry and materials used. Its outer brick walls are quirkily chamfered and slanting to conform to its neighbors Rights to light, which resulted from computer aided design. Design technology was also used to help with the setting out of bricks for the façade. It is a combination of solid Flemish bonds and perforated screens made of bricks. The perforated screens are reminiscent of the mashrabiyas (jalli or latticework) used in our part of the world. This building also demonstrates how tapering walls can be used to shade specific parts of the building depending on its orientation. Like most tall structures it is designed around the core consisting of the lift and stairs, but the treatment of rest of the spaces is anything but conventional. It is thoughtful and receptive of its surroundings. The rustic feel rendered by the use of custom made brick and its careful setting make it seem warm and welcoming as opposed to a glass structure of the same shape. The student centre was awarded a BREEAM Outstanding rating.