Image Courtesy of Dennis Gilbert Stretching across 6101 square metres of London’s LSE city centre campus, the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre is unlike any brick building we have ever seen. Sharp diagonals and perforated panels cut across the multi-faceted façade. And unique polygonal features seem to embody the innovative and experimental spirit of the Modern Era. By using a traditional building material like brick, and assembling it in an unconventional way, architects John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell have given the familiar a sense of intrigue. Transcending Design Obstacles When it comes to multi-purpose centres, there is always the challenge of creating smooth transitions between opposing spaces. And the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre was no exception. From a nightclub and gym, to cafes and prayer rooms, the seven storey brick building presented itself as a giant design puzzle. But John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell readily embraced this puzzle and managed to achieve an effortless flow throughout the brick divides. This, however, was not the only puzzle that the architects needed to piece together. To create the perforated brick areas and keep the building sealed at the same time, the brick had to be constructed in front of glazed screens. This building approach called for careful thought and planning, and the precise positioning of each brick required innovative bricklaying techniques. Perforated Brick Panels Illuminate The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre The building’s unique perforated brick panels give the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre its distinctly attractive exterior and also provide the building with additional lighting. Openings within the Flemish bond brickwork encourage natural light to stream through and light up the interiors. And when the lights are on at night, the building illuminates its surroundings with a beautifully dappled glow. Day or night, the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre is a hive of activity. Students swarm like bees to a honeycomb and keep the building buzzing with a lively atmosphere. But even without its inhabitants, the building exudes a vibrant and youthful energy. Evidently, John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell have created more than just a brick building; they have animated the inanimate and have brought a new perspective to a common building material.
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