UCL Student Centre at Gordon Street - a BREEAM building with a holistic IAQ approach

Designed by alumnus James Eades of Nicholas Hare Architects, the new Student Centre of the University College London is a flagship for sustainable development in the urban environment. This multi-purpose student center is spread over eight levels with a spectacular central atrium. The center boasts 1,000 new study spaces.

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Hybrid Ventilation


London, England



Project Type

New build

Controls & Technology

NV Advance


WMX 804



Natural ventilation in a BREEAM “Outstanding” building

The UCL Student Centre is one of 320 buildings in the world to have achieved the BREEAM rating, “Outstanding”. UCL’s strategy was to focus on a “passive first” approach to the indoor climate to reduce energy use and thereby carbon emissions. The additional benefit of passive approaches meets the school’s other goal of optimizing the health and productivity of the center. Among the sustainable design techniques to reduce energy consumption, natural and mixed mode ventilation are employed to cool and ventilate 34 zones with fresh air. The WindowMaster control system, NV Advance®, automatically controls windows in the facade and roof for a passive approach to air change and cooling. The building maximizes the use of natural ventilation as far as possible to reduce energy consumption. However, during very hot or very cold temperatures, other systems take over for a mixed mode ventilation that keeps the environment comfortable for student productivity.

UCL Student Centre Interior Atrium

Holistic indoor climate approach

In addition to the natural ventilation, the building has a very progressive indoor climate control strategy which includes a ground source borehole system under the building that provides both heating and cooling. “Free” cooling is provided by the system which is connected to cooling pipes in the floor slabs and cooling coils in the air handling units. In the cold months, heat pumps use the boreholes for low grade heat regeneration in addition to the center being connected to the UCL District Heat Network.

Fresh air, all year round

Fresh air is supplied all year round to the building from the atrium via floor level vents. This air can then be tempered by either the free cooling or the recovered heat. These fresh air, mixed mode approaches are what keeps the energy bills low while offering a healthy environment. The occupants can still manually control the windows all year round, though the window control protocols will take over after 15 minutes. This allows occupants to have autonomy while also ensuring that the building can perform optimally and save energy.

UCL Student Centre Exterior Facade

Staying cool during the London heatwave

This highly sustainable and sophisticated system held its own during the London heatwave of 2019. UCL reports on their homepage that the building successfully kept its cool and provided a pleasant environment for work and study. It was even one of the most comfortable buildings on campus! 

For the project, WindowMaster delivered 281 actuators with the patented Motorlink® communication technology which enables easy BMS integration.

Intelligent control of windows: MotorLink®

MotorLink® is a communication technology that enables 2-way control and feedback between window actuators and the Building Management System via the MotorController. All WindowMaster control systems are MotorLink® capable with many of our actuators. Click below to learn more and see related products.

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