The South Kensington Campus has a rich history. The campus today, founded mid-19th Century, has buildings with diverse origins – the Queen’s Tower built during Victorian times; the Royal School of Mines built in the Edwardian era; constructions in the 1950s that nearly doubled the size of the campus; modern additions including the Imperial College Faculty Building and the Business School.
The increasing College population has led to evaluations of how the South Kensington Campus should be refined to accommodate this growth.
In the autumn term of 2017, over 550 staff and students of Imperial College were asked to participate in a consultation of the South Kensington Campus; participants were asked to draw a map of the campus based off memory. A masterplan of the future of the South Kensington Campus has been developed by architect firm Allies and Morrison based off these consultations.
The South Kensington Masterplan is an all-encompassing plan that considers the improvement of nearly all shared spaces on campus. The consultations revealed that most people interact only with a small area of the campus at which they are already based, and are unfamiliar with the College grounds beyond that. This is an imbalance that will be addressed by making the shared spaces between buildings more accessible and appealing, to allow all parts of the campus to be enjoyed by all people.
Projects in the Masterplan vary in terms of impact, ease of implementation, and investment.
The short-term projects include the development of the Sherfield Walkway. The consultations revealed the difficulty of moving around campus, with part of the problem coming from the narrow Sherfield Walkway, which becomes heavily congested during peak hours of the day. The Masterplan involves opening up the Walkway and other routes, increasing space and better access, and adding improved signage.
The Queen’s Lawn has long been thought of as the heart of the campus, and steps have already been taken as part of another short-term project to improve the space. The new Dangoor Plaza will be a courtyard that stretches across the Sherfield Building and the Skempton Building area, where Queen’s Lawn currently spans. The Dangoor Plaza is planned to be a welcoming green space with areas for campus activities year-round. The funding for this project has been generously provided by the Dangoor family’s Exilarch’s Foundation.
David and Elie Dangoor, Exilarch’s Foundation Trustees, are alumni of Imperial College, and their Foundation will also be supporting the development of a cancer research center in the South Kensington Campus Roderic Hill Building. The Foundation has funded the The Invention Rooms on the White City Campus (to be renamed Dangoor Reach Out Makerspace) and the Wohl Reach Out Lab.
Though opening up space in public realms is clearly central to the Masterplan, other improvements to shared spaces are also included. Improved finishes are considered for Dalby Court and Sherfield Walkway; spaces that are arrival points for the public, such as Imperial College Road and the Main Entrance, will be reimagined to enforce a “sense of arrival into the campus with a feeling of welcome”. It considers the development of Imperial College Road into a primarily pedestrian area, as opposed to the vehicle dominated space that it currently is, which would allow it to be a potential space for the weekly Farmer’s Market and the Imperial Festival.
The long-term projects include developments to the Chemistry Building, the Sherfield Building, and expanding the Main Entrance.
Neil Alford, Associate Provost (Academic Planning), states, “The Masterplan is an ambition. It’s a vision for the best version of the campus we can imagine. We shelve considerations of cost and other practicalities for a moment, and just think about what we’d really want our campus to look like. This then provides a framework that helps us as we move forward with our development plans for the campus as investment becomes available.”
Those who would like to submit feedback regarding campus plans may do so on the College website South Kensington Masterplan page.