A better quality of life through better designed environments maximising the development potential of an East London site.


London, UK


Understanding and Articulating Significance


With UCL’s former laboratory no longer fit for purpose, the ambition for PEARL (Person-Environment-Activity-Research-Laboratory), was to provide a world leading research facility at the university with the ability to replicate full-size environments to test how people use cities and the infrastructure within them.

PEARL’s work seeks to create a world where everyone can achieve a better quality of life through better designed environments and improved access.

How we worked together

A positive contribution to the setting of the listed building

The PEARL site comprises a grade II listed canteen building dating from the 1940s constructed to serve the catering needs of the former pharmaceutical company May & Baker.  The style and construction of the original building was the work of the prominent modernist architect Edward Mills and incorporates an early example of a shell concrete roof structure.  Since its original construction, the building comprised a series of later phases, late-20th and early-21st century structures.

Our team were instructed to establish a holistic understanding of the interest of the site.  This included identifying the significance of the site’s multiple components, to establish the extent and significance of the listed building.  Through a detailed understanding of the complex, we were able to work with the wider project team to put forward a scheme that would deliver UCL’s (University College London) ambition to construct a state-of-the-art facility.


We successfully made the case to both Historic England and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, that certain elements of the listed building made minimal contribution to the building’s special interest, subsequently receiving Listed Building Consent for the demolition of these areas and maximising the overall development potential of the site.

Our design advice throughout the project in respect of the emerging proposals and any potential impact they may have on the setting of the listed building, ensured that the proposed PEARL building made a positive contribution to the setting of the listed building.  This resulted in the approval of Planning Permission.

Image courtesy of Penoyre & Prasad