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The Dorothy Garrod Building

by Walters & Cohen Architects

Client Newnham College, Cambridge
Awards RIBA East Award 2019, RIBA East Building of the Year 2019 and RIBA National Award 2019

© Dennis Gilbert VIEW

Initially the architects were asked to look at another part of the college site earmarked for development, but were also asked to reflect on the overall layout and planning of the college grounds. Their analysis of the site led them to question the initial brief, and to look at the back, service yard area of the College, on Sidgwick Avenue, as an alternative location for the new building.

This was inspired advice. Not only did it tidy up this back end of the college, it also added an element that completed the college’s enclosure. Furthermore, by adopting a wrap-around plan the new building was able to form an intimate landscaped courtyard that sits well and contrasts with the extensive grounds and large open spaces created by Basil Champneys.

Also, the new building is perfectly positioned to accommodate the main College entrance and porter’s lodge. Creating a new spine through the college, starting with a delightful, small enclosed garden space at the interface, there is also a strong visual connection to the new main courtyard at the junction with the existing college buildings which facilitates the integration of new and old.

The new building itself is both practical and elegant, drawing inspiration from its well-crafted predecessors. A large format brick clad concrete frame accommodates well-proportioned, comfortable rooms, and by balancing the elevation grid with panels of open bond brickwork, which come alive at night when lit from behind, a subtly resonant feel is achieved, in tune with the century-old neighbouring buildings without directly referencing them.

Student rooms occupy the first and second floors, and their geometry is cleverly used to ensure appropriate privacy while retaining a feeling of openness and light. Supervision rooms and other teaching spaces are on the ground floor, as are staff offices and a very popular café. The rooftop gym is a special space, giving memorable views across the college buildings and grounds.

Profound and multiple connections between the past and the future are very carefully conceived and highly impressive.

Contractor SDC

Structural Engineer AKT II

Environmental / M&E / Acoustic Engineer Max Fordham

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant AECOM

Project Management Gleeds

Landscape Architect Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape

Interior Design Ab Rogers Design

Lighting Design Nulty

Planning Consultant Savills

BREEAM Consultant Eight Associates

Approved Building Control Inspector MLM Building Control

Artist Cathy de Monchaux

Specialist Lighting Installation Haberdashery

Signage Consultant Kellenberger-White

Internal area 6,540 m²

© Dennis Gilbert VIEW
© Dennis Gilbert VIEW
© Dennis Gilbert VIEW
© Dennis Gilbert VIEW
© Walters & Cohen Architects
© Walters & Cohen Architects
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