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10 NEWS


UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE


Bennetts Associates completes Cambridge Student Services Centre


Bennetts Associates has completed a new Student Services Centre for The University of Cambridge. The centre significantly improves access to student welfare services, provides highly flexible teaching spaces and rejuvenates an important historical site. Student wellbeing and more flexible teaching space are “two of the pressing issues that universities face,” said the architects. The university wanted to significantly improve access to both, while also reinvigorating a historical urban site that had been vacated by science faculties moving to the west of the city. The 6720 m2


project co-locates seven


student support services from across the city into a single, easily accessible location. Located on a historic site in the city centre, the development combines new build accommodation and refurbished Grade II listed buildings.


The architects commented, “By working with potential users and carefully analysing the existing fabric we brought clarity to what was an extremely complex project.” Each of the services has a clear entrance and identity, with a new atrium space providing a focal point. Weaving the


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circulation of the three buildings interconnects the different uses, while allowing several discreet approaches to sometimes sensitive services. The newly built column-free examinations space can be easily reconfigured to form flexible teaching and social spaces, which complements a refurbished 210-seat lecture theatre. Three floors of further accommodation provide adaptable space with plenty of natural light.


The proportions of the new building “relate to the neighbouring historic buildings and use an enduring palette of brickwork, concrete and timber that will age with dignity.” The original Examination Halls portal has been re-used as an entrance to the new building, “preserving memory of the site’s significance in the evolution of the university.” The former Arts School has been refurbished to provide a range of facilities for students and University services, including the Disability Resource Centre and Careers Service. Minor alterations done were sensitive to the original design while undertaking a major reconfiguration of the spaces.


The project also implements the second phase of the New Museums Site masterplan, which will greatly improve the surrounding public realm through the creation of a series of urban courts with better connections to the city. As part of the wider restructure and regeneration, a new passageway has been created through the Old Cavendish building, which improves access to the site from the north forming the main gateway to the New Museums Site from the medieval core of the city centre. Natural ventilation also plays a key part in the project – the spaces having a high degree of exposed thermal mass. A robust concrete frame ensures future adaptation, and thermal modelling was undertaken to predict possible future climatic conditions. Peter Fisher, director at Bennetts Associates, said, “We are absolutely delighted to have been able to work so closely with the university, to help improve access to student welfare services and to rejuvenate such an important historical site. It is nevertheless a building that can continue to adapt to changing welfare and teaching needs well into the university’s future.”


ADF JUNE 2019


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