Friday, 11 December 2015

What's Going On At Imperial College White City?

Imperial College White City - as proposed at their website
Drive up Wood Lane past the A40 and you can hardly miss the massive new towers thrusting upwards, part of the new Imperial College White City Campus.  Imperial College is expanding its empire, and White City is a big part of the vision.  The style is unabashedly modernist, with concrete, steel and glass being the chief ingredients.  It's all part of the White City Opportunity Area, a redevelopment project set in motion a few years ago by our Council, The Mayor of London, and central government.  Imperial College's goal is to create "create a culture of research and innovation, electric with ideas".

Imperial's ambitions are very, very big. You might even describe them as, well, imperial.  To see just how big their plans are, watch their video below. This isn't just a new group of buildings, it's an entire new campus. Mayor Boris Johnson is obviously very keen on the project, since he is interviewed right at the start of the video.

What's it all about? Well, as Bill Clinton said: "it's the economy, stupid". Imperial's expansion will bring jobs to our area, many of them in the fast-growing medical and biotech sectors.

The buzzwords in the video are all about jobs, industry, collaboration, research, discoveries, science. enterprise, innovation.
Imperial West. 

And it's going to cost a lot of money. The Research and Translation Hub alone will cost £200m, and will be "Imperial West’s centrepiece". It will include "space for 1,000 researchers alongside 50 spin-out companies" and will "support innovation on an unprecedented scale in London".

The site is 25 acres in size, and includes the former Dairy Crest site that was purchased by Imperial back in 2013, making the new campus twice as large as the original plan.

Will it be beautiful? That rather depends on your point of view. The pictures at their official site look shiny enough, but the towers going up to the east of Wood Lane seem just as faceless and impersonal as anything that modernist architecture has created in the last fifty years or so.

Certainly, it won't make Wood Lane feel less much less uninviting for pedestrians than it is now. Imperial College will be something to drive past, not something that invites visitors to wander in.

Imperial College will bring jobs and investment to our area. Whether it will improve the skyline is a different question.


The Bush Telegraph offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at shepherdsbushblog(at)

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