The Imperial College Faculty Building was the fourth building on Imperial College’s South Kensington campus to be designed by Foster + Partners and is situated at the south side of Dalby Court, a small square bordered on all four sides by existing 1950s and 1960s college blocks. Part of a wider masterplan to improve the environment of Dalby Court and to rationalise circulation through the centre of the campus, the four-storey building was completed in April 2004 and has enabled the College’s key administrative staff to work together under the same roof for the first time. The building’s four storeys contain a mixture of open-plan spaces around the central core, with cellular offices at the building’s periphery.
The existing deck has been extended to conceal the service road, plant area and electricity sub station below. A gently sloping ramp bisects the building diagonally, creating a dramatic view of the Queen’s Tower and opening up a new shortcut through the campus that negotiates the 5 metre level change. The façade is characterised by a cladding system incorporating blue opaque panels in three different shades – these were chosen by the Danish artist, Per Arnoldi and their arrangement responds to the path of the sun and the shading requirements. Blood-orange coloured columns line the ramp internally and these are visible through the blue-tinted glass panels, further animating the facade and enlivening Dalby Court.
Designed with a highly progressive environmental strategy, a composite of recycled timber and plastic was used for the surface of the new deck. A large proportion of heat is supplied by waste heat from the Central Heat and Power Plant, which is situated beneath the new deck and serves the entire campus. Chilled beams mounted on the exposed concrete ceilings keep the building cool and are housed in a bespoke ceiling element that consolidates air distribution, lighting, motion and smoke detectors, fire alarms and acoustic absorption. Two basement levels contain parking spaces for 30 cars and secure storage for 600 bicycles, satisfying the requirement for the entire campus.