Housing \ Student Accommodation, Jesus College, Cambridge

Student Accommodation, Jesus College, Cambridge, 1997. Unbuilt

The practice was selected, through an extensive procedure, for a limited competition against two London practices, one of whom had already constructed the new Quinn Centenary Library. The competition was lost by the narrowest of margins, but was a fascinating exercise in designing a contemporary building within an existing strong and repetitive pattern of development.

Jesus College is an unusual Cambridge College, since with the exception of the main court reached by the famous "chimney" (from the road) all other subsequent courts have developed a pattern of having only three sides, the fourth looking out at College landscape. This phenomena has been repeated right up to the present day with the David Roberts development in the 1960s.

Our site was located between the 1920s Morden building and Jesus Lane, a trapezoid shaped site with a number of existing mature trees and the new library facade dominating the site. Our design placed the student rooms in three small gardens facing south, which combined to form an overall three sided court looking out at existing football pitches. The rooms are arranged around groups of six on a staircase with the half level being taken up with a kitchen which forms a small cloister-like space in each garden. All movement within the staircase can be viewed from the kitchen, encouraging the sociability of the six students.

The buttresses to the existing Tudor wing of the College have been taken and greatly expanded to form the rhythm of bathrooms on the north facade of the new rooms and these bathrooms have been topped with a terrace for each staircase. A third phase of a music school was indicated and the intention of its placing is to partially close the court and partially hide an unfortunately placed Victorian house on the site.

Architects Richard Murphy, Oliver Chapman, James Nelmes, Edward Hollis, Euan MacDonald, Patrick Bankhead
Construction Cost £4m
Client Jesus College, Cambridge


October 1997 Quad Squad Riba Journal
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