South Kensington Masterplan
What is a masterplan?
The South Kensington Masterplan, developed by architects Allies and Morrison, sets out an ambitious long term vision to make the campus environment the best it can be for staff, students and visitors. Developed in consultation with more than 550 members of the College community, the Masterplan provides a flexible framework for the Campus’ future development and growth. The Masterplan can be thought of as an ambition. It’s a vision for the best version of the campus we can imagine. This then provides a framework that helps us as we move forward with our development plans for the campus as investment becomes available.
History of the Campus
Imperial was founded at South Kensington in 1888 as part of Prince Albert’s vision for a large-scale cultural and scientific quarter emerging from the success of the Great Exhibition. Over the last 125 years the South Kensington campus has seen successive waves of redevelopment; from its Victorian and Edwardian origins and the substantial Post- War Jubilee Expansion scheme to more recent building projects such as the Sir Alexander Fleming Building. These periods of growth have been essential in enabling the College to continue to grow and evolve, maintaining its status as a world-leader in education and research in science, engineering, medicine and business.
The place today
Today over 50 years on, the university has once again outgrown its space and have developed campuses elsewhere. With new space available from recent development at Imperial White City, attention has turned to the South Kensington Campus to ensure it is prepared to meet future needs. As with all large institutions, the Campus risks becoming more complex, confusing and unclear over time. This is particularly true of the public realm - the spaces shared by all.
Each project is grouped by terms. Term is an indication of impact, ease of implementation and level of investment required. Projects can be categorised into short, medium, long term and distant future.
Queen’s Lawn is the heart of the campus and a much loved green space used throughout the year. Our consultation highlighted Queen’s Lawn and Queen’s Tower as the most liked elements of the campus. Already the university has taken steps to open up Queen’s Lawn through removing the hedge to improve visual connections. Further steps can be taken to strengthen this space as the centre of the campus.
Sherfield Walkway and Links
The Sherfield Walkway is the main spine of the campus. It connects east and west from the Main Entrance from the east to the Sherfield and Huxley buildings. It is located one storey above natural ground and is cut into the first floor of the Sherfield Building. The Walkway is overcrowded at peak times in the morning and at lunch. Connections to the Queen’s Lawn are congested. Ideas to improve the Walkways include upgrading the surface finishes; opening up adjacent spaces to the Walkway thereby allowing better visibility and access to building entrances and common workspaces; and even creating an entirely new street by aligning the Walkway.
Dalby Court is the largest paved outdoor space in the South Kensington campus. It is a significant space at the crossroads of pedestrian movement east-west from the Main Entrance to Sherfield and north-south from the Royal School of Mines to the Faculty Building and beyond. The space can be improved by improved finishes, lighting and wind mitigation along with a new pavilion, outdoor furniture and soft landscaping.
Imperial College Road
Imperial College Road is a tree lined boulevard and also a public right of way through the campus. Once the address of the Imperial Institute and the Royal College of Science, it now connects Exhibition Road to Queen’s Gate with the Queen’s Lawn at the midpoint. It is currently dominated by vehicles and parking. The vision focusses on creating a sense of arrival into the campus with a feeling of welcome. This could involve high quality paving for a shared surface to support a public realm prioritising pedestrians and can cater for college events such as the Imperial Festival or the weekly farmers’ market.
The Main Entrance is an important point of arrival for visitors and the college community. Its architectural style gives the College a sense of status befitting its reputation on Exhibition Road. The entrance doors and internal circulation complicate its easy use and restrict access. The future vision involves creating a welcoming entrance with visitor reception and street presence on Exhibition Road to communicate to the public the exciting research and teaching within by exhibiting material onto the street by opening up frontages.
Refurbish the Chemistry Building as shared labs with common space opening onto Queen’s Lawn
Refurbish Sherfield Building proving activity that opens out onto Queen’s Lawn and Sherfield Walkway
Main Entrance Expansion
Future development opportunity for additional teaching space
New entrance pavilion with common space opening up to Imperial College Road
North West Quarter (New Space)
Future development opportunity for more teaching space
North West Quarter (North Route)
New pedestrian route from Queen’s Lawn to Beit Quad
North West Quarter (Great Hall Square)
Open the refurbished Great Hall out onto a new public square
Bessemer and Royal School of Mines
Improved pedestrian link from Dalby Court to Prince Consort Road