Works to refurbish and repurpose administration, teaching and wellbeing spaces in the Chemistry Building have been completed for several projects.
Estates Operations have completed a series of refurbishment projects in the Chemistry Department, Chemistry Building, South Kensington to improve several educational and welfare spaces, including a new Student Support Hub, Student Wellbeing Suite and ICT Suite.
Works first began in 2022 and were completed at the end of last year, in time for students to access and use their new facilities during the Spring Term.
First on campus
Spaces on campus, such as those for interactive teaching, collaboration or student socialising, may often be busy. A break-out area in Chemistry C160 was transformed into a ‘wellbeing room’, aimed at students who want a quiet, restful space away from others.
The room was designed by a working group, with input from specialists from the Disability Advisory Service as well as representatives from other departments.
With funds from the President’s Community Fund, £46k was spent renovating the former storage room into a rest area with newly painted walls and ceiling, new carpet and warm white lighting. The room is now furnished with a range of seating options and moveable planters that can be used to zone different areas of the room for more privacy.
The room’s lighting and furniture were designed by considering the needs of a wide variety of students, including those who might prefer a low sensory environment, as well as those who have reduced mobility.
Paige Noyce, Project Manager in Chemistry, says that she and her colleagues supported the idea after some students, working in laboratories, would feel suddenly unwell and would require a space to recover.
“The space will be a sanctuary for students in need of a quiet space to recuperate and recharge, whether for physical, emotional or other reasons,” she says.
This Student Wellbeing Suite is the first of its kind on campus and serves as a pilot for the potential rollout of other spaces across College.
Open-plan hub for student support
The Student Service office was also upgraded in the autumn of 2022 to become the new Student Support Hub, situated on Level Two of the Chemistry Building, South Kensington.
Since the Student Services office opened in April 2013, it has served as a centre where students can request general, teaching and pastoral support. Renovations were aimed at helping the staff continue this support, whilst upgrading the office with additional spaces.
Offices were combined and renovated into a multipurpose open-plan hub which now provides a more welcoming atmosphere for students, as well as comfortable and flexible workspace for staff, based both at South Kensington or at alternative sites, such as White City.
The Hub is now home to members of the Chemistry UG administration Services, Pastoral and Teaching teams which facilitates the one stop shop for all student and staff’s needs.
The Hub was designed to have multiple functions. Breakout rooms were added such that students can have private meetings with Hub staff, and individual pods with screens were installed to allow for hot-desking for visiting staff.
There is a welcome desk for high-footfall activity weeks such as Welcome week and exam weeks. An informal central meeting area, which can be used for meetings and staff catch-up, was also added, facilitating cross-campus meetings.
“This is essential for us as we are split site, with the majority of our staff based in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub in White City,” says Raj Sandhu, the Department of Chemistry’s Undergraduate Education Manager.
Adaptable teaching space
An extension and remodeling of CHEM 135 was completed in September 2022 to outfit the ICT suite with new finishes, ventilation, lighting control, furniture and enhanced AV equipment.
£430,000 was spent transforming the new ICT suite into an adaptable learning space. Monitors can be pushed down into tables to hide them from view, creating a multifunction space and enabling the room to be used for computations labs, workshops and as an independent study space.
“I would like to thank the Estates Projects and Operations Team’s that made these refurbishments possible, especially Aimée Buirski and Michael St Clair Laing for all the Department of Chemistry improvements that have been achieved so far,” says Paige Noyce.
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Faculty of Natural Sciences
Department of Chemistry