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Graduate Centre an alternative view

The area of Holloway in north London is not a prime location for tourists. Famous for the Holloway Prison (the only all-female prison in UK), the Holloway Road that runs down the middle of this town is also a haunt for immigrants selling illegal tobacco. The road is constantly heavy with traffic and the streets are lined with kebab shops and factory outlet stores. If you dare to count the merits, the buses will take you to Camden Town and the fashionable Angel area in under ten minutes and cheap households goods are on sale at the weekend markets. Recently though, Holloway has been in the news for its new and unexpected new resident…

Graduate Centre an alternative view

The Graduate Centre, London Metropolitan University opened officially on 9 March 2004. It was designed by Daniel Libeskind, the world famous (originally from Germany) who carried out such projects as the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and currently working on the redevelopment on Ground Zero in New York in the aftermath of 9/11.

Holloway Road in the afternoon, heavy with traffic and the Graduate Centre

This building, named the ‘Orion Project’ is a structure with three intersecting blocks and the large geometrical windows provide natural light into the lecture hall, three seminar rooms, offices and cafe for the staff and students. The exterior is covered in embossed stainless steel panels. The tall buildings on both sides of this architecture gives the impression that the Graduate Center is squeezed into the space in between. The futuresque design of this building is eye-catching and you can see the blocks stretching out above the streets. However, the passersby and the traffic seem to be indifferent to this piece of art by such a renowned architect.

The three buildings of London Metropolitan University, all different in size and design

At the opening ceremony, the local MP praised the university’s bold decision to build a building with controversial design. “I’m exhilarated just to be here” he said. “It would have been much safer to go for a more conservative architect. But I want the British educational system to be on the cutting edge by building places that take risks.”

It is reported that Libeskind answered to an interview and gave the reason for taking on this project as ‘every building is important’ and ‘London needs good architecture’. He also said that although the building is small (net area only 700 m2) it makes a big impact and provides ‘maximum architecture with minimum means’.

The Graduate Centre is already favoured by students and teachers alike, who use it everyday for lectures and meetings.

London Metropolitan University
Address: 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

Text and Photos: Sari Uchida

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