Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc
Lincoln’s Inn, as one of the four Inns of Court, plays a central role in the rule of law for the UK and beyond. The estate to support this important legal work is located across eleven acres of quiet historic buildings. One of the most important functions of Lincoln’s Inn is the ongoing education of student members and barristers.
The refurbishment of the Great Hall and the creation of new education and library facilities provide the Inn with much improved accommodation that preserves and enhances the Inn’s ability to meet the needs of its legal community through the qualification, training and development of its members.
Taking an holistic approach to the complex of buildings, the removal of insensitive 20th century additions while conserving the existing fabric allowed to remodel the spaces to reveal the character of the Grade II* Listed Great Hall and Library. The design adds new elements that integrate seamlessly with the historic fabric and offer previously unseen views of the existing building.
The works reinstate the key access routes and clarity of movement within and around the building for all users. Re-opening the southern entrance stair returns ceremony to the ascent into the Hall, re-establishing the sense of arrival that was subdued by previous works. A new timber floor with underfloor heating in the Great Hall provides more effective thermal comfort for users and the reinstatement of the timber wainscoting that lines the room restores the grandeur of the hall. Comprehensive drainage and waterproofing works in the basement safeguard the long-term future of the building.
The Inn’s existing education facilities were off site, were too small, had poor ventilation and no natural daylight. This was problematic, as the Inn was keen to re-assert its education programme through expansion, as part of its focus on inclusivity and reach out to individuals from different backgrounds. The Ashworth Centre now places education at the heart of the Inn, reinforcing it as one of the Inn’s core functions and provides students and members with high quality teaching facilities that are linked to the other core functions within the Great Hall.
long with the library extension, the new buildings are designed to be discreet and sympathetic to the historic context of the Inn. Large rooflights and double height spaces bring natural light into the heart of the buildings whilst providing important visual connections to the surrounding buildings. The design provides new education, library and administration facilities with minimum visual impact on the historic setting of the Great Hall and Library building and on the wider setting of the Inn.
The project marries together exceptional environmental and sustainable performance with a sensitive understanding of the significant historical setting of the Inn. A holistic energy strategy helped to significantly reduce the running costs of the Inn’s existing historic building stock. Existing building systems have been upgraded to be more efficient and sustainable; utilising renewable energy from a new ground source heat pump within the new education development.
Rainwater harvesting and a sustainable urban drainage system (SUDs) have also been incorporated into the new buildings and despite the age of the buildings and heritage restrictions, the project achieves a BREEAM.
‘Very Good’ rating. ‘Gaining planning permission for such a major intervention adjacent to the iconic Grade II* listed building required a thoroughly engineered approach, and numerous junctions with the existing buildings which were carefully detailed. In re-connecting the new library space to the historic turret, the existing spiral stone stairs had to be rotated by 180 degrees. This operation was carried out with surgical precision and was achieved without the need to replace any of the original treads. The final result is testament to the team that they maintained such a keenly focused attention to detail throughout.’
Duncan Walters, Associate Director, Eckersley O’Callaghan