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Birkbeck's campus expansion opens door to new, modern student hub

The College’s ambitious Estates programme will add significant study space for students and consolidate an already thriving campus community.

Birkbeck's Malet Street building
Birkbeck's Malet Street building

A long-standing aim to provide all Birkbeck’s students with the very best learning and social spaces on and around its campus in central London is firmly in sight with the recent acquisition of the former Student Central building, which is set to increase the College’s space by around 25%.

Situated next door to the main Malet Street building, work to create state-of-the-art teaching, learning and social facilities in the newly acquired space is expected to be completed by mid-2024. The project will provide a range of learning and social areas, as well as new space for Birkbeck’s Students’ Union and a café and bar.

It will reduce Birkbeck’s reliance on rented teaching rooms in dispersed locations, which students consistently say has a negative impact on their experience.

Professor David Latchman, Vice-Chancellor, said, “Acquiring this building provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve and increase our teaching, learning and student social and communal space at the heart of our campus in Bloomsbury.

“As we approach our 200th anniversary, it will help us to continue to deliver on our unique mission to provide flexible, research-led higher education of the highest quality, to people who might not otherwise be able to access it.  

As well as enabling our students to connect, engage and participate inside and outside classrooms in ways in which we have not been able to facilitate in the past, allowing them to maximise the benefit from their time with us, the space will be accessible to others as our facilities have always been. Our campus in Bloomsbury and most of our facilities are open and accessible to all and, as our classes are mainly in the evenings, students from other institutions will benefit from using the newly created learning spaces during the day.”

The acquisition, which concluded at the end of July, is part of an overarching Campus Projects brief that aims to meet the changing needs of students and continue to improve Birkbeck’s teaching, learning, research and social spaces. Other major estate improvement projects completed this year include the development of 373 Euston Road which is scheduled to open for teaching in the Autumn term. Set over seven storeys, the building, which is on the corner of Euston Road and Cleveland Street, provides a range of teaching, learning and social spaces including: ten classrooms for between 30 and 60 students; a student lounge and café; and social learning areas. It also houses a 180-seat copper clad lecture theatre with a terrace at roof level.

A further development, which has added immense value to Birkbeck’s world leading research into the development of babies and young children’s brains and the provision of early intervention where neurodevelopmental disorders are identified, is the Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab, which was also completed this year.

The ToddlerLab is the first centre of its kind in the world. The new building spans five floors and houses a virtual reality environment, a pre-school environment, a home front-room environment, a napping environment and ‘the Exploration Lab’, a suite dedicated to developing behavioural interventions.

The ToddlerLab complements Birkbeck’s existing BabyLab and will enable researchers to track development seamlessly over the first five years of life, in the hope that neurological conditions such as autism and ADHD can be discovered earlier. It also provides a unique learning facility for students to engage in cutting-edge research.

Professor Latchman said: “These major building projects represent a genuinely transformational investment in our estate - the most ambitious since we originally moved to Bloomsbury in 1952. They are an investment in Birkbeck’s future, focused on providing the best facilities for our students and the infrastructure that will sustain the excellence of our research.”

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