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Senate House Steps, University of London


Location Client Cost Completion
London, UK University of London £600k 2022

Project details

Our new architectural installation at Senate House has created a symbol of opportunity and a new canvas for students in the shadow of the University of London’s flagship building. The ‘Senate House Steps’ is an inspiring and social space to inhabit and a place that cohorts are now taking ownership of, within the heart of the University estate.

Senate House was designed in 1929 as the flagship building and home of the University of London. The architect, Charles Holden, described the monumental building as a ‘symbol of the permanence of the institution beyond any individual’. The pyramid form, use of load-bearing stone and small scale openings emphasise the stability of the building, creating a powerful and enduring image for the estate in which it resides.

BDP’s multidisciplinary team was asked to design a creative, social environment that transforms the car park on the west side of the central tower into a social space while highlighting and enhancing the horseshoe layout of Senate House, continuing its symmetrical language and encouraging activity. The structure would work to instil a sense of belonging and become a place and where students would want to stay and relax with their peers.  

The result is a 7.3 metre-tall structure that is a symbol of the dynamism and potential of the students and of the wider university community. Introducing orange as the primary colour signifies opportunity, and the form and flexibility of the Spanish-style steps deliver a sense of stage and presence. The dual aspect of space above and below the steps allows students to occupy the spaces on their terms, providing an extension of the University’s magnum opus and a new heart for social gathering. It has become the landmark for all social events and students are using the pavilion as the main meeting place on campus, as a space for eating and relaxing, and for celebrating successes together. The steps are carefully dimensioned to create a stage-set for people; to sit, lie, talk, and connect.


  • green award at the Build Back Better Awards 2023

Integrated services

architecture, building services engineering, civil & structural engineering, graphic design, interior design, lighting, sustainability