The Firoz Lalji Global Hub is the final set-piece addition to the London School of Economics’ (LSE) central London campus and is prominently located on the south side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. With the mission to address global issues, the building will include conference facilities, academic and teaching spaces, digital labs, and a 350-seat theatre. The design embraces the ethos of the new centre through a strategy of adaptive re-use that will see large parts of the existing structure retained helping make it LSE’s first net zero carbon building.
The current building on 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields was built shortly after World War II. While not a formally recognised as an architectural heritage asset it does represent significant material and cultural capital. The proposal takes a radical approach to re-use and keeps over 60% of the existing structures. The two principal façades are also preserved and opened to Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Portugal Street respectively.
The Lincoln’s Inn Fields façade is confidently reimagined as a large civic palazzo, elevating and enhancing its formal setting on the square. All the brickwork is lightly lime washed to establish a singular quality in dialogue with the Royal College of Surgeons, strengthening the civic presence of LSE on the square. A light-weight timber structure extends the building by two stories giving further prominence to the building.
An accessible open lobby occupies the ground floor creating a welcoming entrance space and a route through the site that better connects the park to the LSE campus. At its centre is the 350-seat agora – a round, flexible, multi-purpose space that is excavated out of the existing structure and features a sculptural ceiling designed by the artist Magdalene Odundo that references the architecture of John Soane found across the square. The agora will bring people together both physically and virtually into a common space that facilitates new ways of learning and interaction, becoming a physical representation of LSE’s values.
A light-filled atrium is located on the first floor directly above the central agora. This space is created through the removal of the structure at the centre of the block and its replacement with a new timber construction that incorporates circulation through a spiral staircase. The atrium gives direct access to the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and the Data Sciences facilities which face the square and campus respectively. The central floors contain the academic departments including mathematics and statistics, while the new upper floors house facilities for advanced and executive education as well as a restaurant. These spaces connect to open loggias to the north and south offering views over Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the London skyline.