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Teaching and meeting room furniture | Sainsbury Wellcome Centre

Teaching and meeting room furniture

Education & Research

The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour is an award-winning state-of-the-art facility for experimental neuroscience research at University College London. Housed within an impressive new building designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, the centre plays host to 150 scientists and over 50 support staff and required both teaching and meeting room furniture as well as carrels for researchers. The project was developed through a partnership between the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Internally, it was decided the building would be organised in accordance with neuroscientific research which indicated a human preference for spaces with high visibility, connectivity, permeability and adaptability. For the centre, the Luke Hughes team was commissioned to design a range of specialist furniture with Ian Ritchie that would perfectly fit the visual style of the project. Amongst the designs is a customised version of the Luke Hughes 120º workstation. In addition, meeting room furniture, dining areas, soft seating areas and reception furniture were all created following the interior palette of icy white and intense blue.


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The Luke Hughes 120º workstations, in a pristine white laminate, were configured in curved desks and shelving, wrapping around to provide semi-private working spaces for the building’s 150 scientists. Named for the 120 degree curve of the design, the workstations were installed in compact clusters, with tall separating panels which act as acoustic barriers. Ideal for high-density occupation, the workstations prevent valuable floor space from being wasted. Easily disconnected, each 120º can be rearranged to suit changing demands.

For classrooms, the lecture and presentation spaces, and the refectory areas, Luke Hughes created a range of folding tables finished in a white laminate that closely echoed the exterior finish of the building and contrasted with the dark wood flooring. The tables are designed to be lightweight and easily reconfigured for a variety of events and uses. These same tables were also used within the neighbouring dining area. The undulating exterior of the building is further referenced throughout the interior, reflected by the bespoke reception benches finished in white powder coated steel, the curved backs of the chairs, and white laminate lecterns. Private office space and meeting room furniture carry on the white and silver material palette with bespoke laminate desking and shelving units featuring glass and chrome shelves. On the terraces, curved table edges complement the curvature of the balcony.


Soft seating areas consisting of upholstered sofas and armchairs with slimline metallic legs echo the intense blue seen throughout the architecture. The building was officially opened by David Sainsbury on 28 April 2016. The project has since won the 2016 BCI Major Building of the Year Award, the 2016 LEAF Best Façade Design & Engineering Award, and 2016 LEAF Overall Winner Award, as well as being shortlisted for numerous other architecture and construction awards. It demonstrates our ability to take on the value engineering of an entire furniture programme incorporating meeting room furniture, teaching spaces and reading carrels and to carry a singular architectural theme into a set of timeless pieces that provide versatility and flexibility.


Enjoy the article? Delve deeper into Luke Hughes & Company’s place in the Arts and Crafts tradition with the fascinating new book 'Furniture in Architecture' . Available through Thames & Hudson


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