Listed buildings in universities: opportunities and challenges

Date & Time:1st November 2016

More than thirty members of HEDQF gathered in the magnificent surroundings of the Queen Anne Wing of the University of Greenwich’s campus in the Old Royal Naval College to consider the issue of listed buildings and their role in the higher education estate.

The meeting had three themes. The first was the way in which the University of Greenwich had adapted the Grade I buildings by Wren, superbly located by the Thames, for educational use. Michael Flanagan, Director of Estates and Facilities at Greenwich, who was our host for the afternoon, took us through the history of the site and also explained that, after fifteen years of occupation, the University is now working up a scheme for refurbishment in which design detail will be crucial. Michael and his colleagues also led us on a fascinating tour, including the undercroft (above) and the stair (pictured below), which leads to what must be one of the most spectacular Vice Chancellor’s Offices in the UK.

The second presentation turned our attention to the wider context of listing nationally. Dr Roger Bowdler (Director of Listing at Historic England) took us through the history of listing and the current processes involved. Roger emphasized his keenness to engage with universities in both masterplanning and the likelihood of future listings and the detailed consideration of individual schemes.

The third element of the programme was a fascinating presentation by Amir Ramezani of Avanti Architects on their scheme for the Florey Building at Queen’s College, Oxford. Designed by James Stirling and opened in 1971, the building has 75 student rooms located on a site by the Cherwell. Controversial from the start, the now-listed building is soon to be renovated, with a degree of internal reorganisation and external addition.

The meeting concluded with an excellent round table discussion chaired by Julian Robinson (LSE) when the speakers were joined by Richard Brookes of Turley and Pia Berg of Penoyre Prasad.

We are most grateful to the University of Greenwich for hosting a very successful meeting and to Turley for their generous sponsorship of refreshments before and afterwards