Examination of the performance gap for one of UCL’s newly retrofitted buildings

By Vasiliki Kontopoulou, on 12 July 2015

I am an MSc Environmental Design and Engineering student at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College of London, currently conducting my dissertation thesis in collaboration with UCL Estates and Green UCL. I will be giving updates on the Green UCL blog to share my research into one of UCL’S newly retrofitted buildings over the coming months. More specifically, I will be looking in depth at the gap between the predicted and actual energy performance of Cruciform hub using hygrothermal monitoring, occupant comfort surveys and dynamic building thermal modelling. Possible causes causing this discrepancy will be examined in detail.

1A brief history of the building

Cruciform Building is a Grade II listed building (Date of listing: 12/3/1974) located on Gower Street in central London, in the London Borough of Camden. It is situated inside the Bloomsbury Conservation Area and it was firstly designed as a hospital block by Alfred and Paul Waterhouse.

The building’s diagonal plan, with a single service core and radiating wings, provided light and ventilation for the wards.

Materials were selected for their durability; hard red brick and terracotta were more economic and less susceptible to erosion than stone.

In 2000, a refurbishment was undertaken through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI), converting it into the Wolfson Center for Biomedical Research and the pre-clinical training facility for UCL’s medical school.

On the 12th July 2012, as part of the UCL Masterplan, a new hub and project learning space for the students of medical school was proposed on the basement of the building. Quiet study areas, a computer cluster and group workspaces were designed aiming not to overpopulate the spaces, as this would inevitably lead to uncomfortable conditions.


Computer cluster


Group workspace







Source: Stage D of Cruciform Student Hub report (12th October 2012)

Typical energy use of the  whole building 





Data obtained from:  https://platform.carbonculture.net/places/cruciform-building/1180/

Display Energy Certificate / CO2 emissions


Data obtained from:  https://platform.carbonculture.net/places/cruciform-building/1180/

Methodology of the research


Next steps…

Collection of monitoring data

Conduction of questionnaire surveys

Simulation of the modelled building on IES VE to extract information regarding the predicted energy performance

Comparison with benchmarks

Analysis of preliminary results


Student: Vasiliki Kontopoulou

Supervisor: Anna Mavrogianni

In collaboration with:

UCL Estates: Joanna Marshall Cook

Green UCL: Alex Green