UCL Octagon





Photos © UCL/Robert Eagle, Edmund Sumner

Ensuring the high tech audio visual and touch-screen components were kept hidden and in-keeping with the elegant style of this Grade 1 Listed building while coordinating effectively with other suppliers and installing during the busiest two weeks of the academic year made this project unusually challenging.

This project will create an excellent and much-needed exhibition space that we can use to showcase our world class collections and to highlight some of our internationally important research in a creative and visually stunning way.

- Sally Macdonald (UCL Museums and Collections)

The Oculus and Octagon project was part of a grand plan by University College London for the Wilkins Building to evolve into a space in which to offer 21st century library and information services. The first floor gallery under the dome was opened up and capped with a dramatic glass plinth for the John Flaxman sculpture St Michael Overcoming Satan (1818-1824), while Sysco was commissioned to help transform the space below into a publicly-accessible gallery with 4 separate areas employing audio visual and touchscreen technology to showcase the university’s substantial collections.

The Wilkins Building is a major architectural statement by William Wilkins (1778-1839) whose work also includes such icons as the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and Downing College, Cambridge. Installing within such an important Grade 1 Listed building involved the obvious challenges of selecting high tech components that would be in keeping with the distinguished nature of the building, and keeping as much as possible of the technology hidden to ensure an appropriate visitor experience.

In addition, the need to coordinate delivery with other suppliers on-site and install without causing interference to the operation of what is essentially the hub of the university’s busy campus during the hustle and bustle of Freshers’ Week, provided Sysco with an especially challenging installation environment.

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