Drop-out rates spur Bisset Adams Birkbeck overhaul

Bisset Adams is overhauling the interior of the University of London Birkbeck College’s main building in a bid to reduce drop-out rates.

The interior design and architecture group was appointed in January following a three-way competitive pitch and briefed to create an advice and enquiries centre for the students.

Bisset Adams, which worked on the 900m2 ground floor of the university’s Malet Street premises, was asked to consider the demographic of the institution, which mainly caters for mature students.

The consultancy’s head of interiors Adam Strudwick says, ‘The university is trying to improve its retention rates for existing students and new students, since there’s a high drop-out rate. A lot of students work full-time, study in the evenings and they don’t have a single location for support.’ The redesign is part of a broader ‘My Birkbeck’ initiative – branded by Indigo – aimed at improving services for the students.

Working to an eight-week timetable, the consultancy is to complete the work before students return at the end of August. Strudwick says, ‘The look and feel will be more grown-up. We’ve broken through the walls of nine offices to create consultation spaces and to make everything look more professional.’

Bisset Adams has used natural wood for the fittings and opted for cherry veneer desks. Exposed masonry has been used in places ‘to make it look slightly urban’, Strudwick says.

The main reception has been moved to the front entrance. ‘This means filling in a bridge over a basement, which restricted flow,’ Strudwick says.
Flexible LED displays will be hung as signage, allowing messages to be broadcast during busy exam and enrolment periods in the academic year, and at peak times on a daily basis.

The consultancy is also redesigning the laboratories, and the teaching and training rooms on the upper floors of the building.

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