We are delighted to hear that the University of Cambridge North Range Student Services Project has won a high commendation at the Civic Trust Awards. The project included a refurbishment of existing listed buildings, the construction of a new wing, and an overhaul of the public realm.
Blending Old and New
The blending of old and new elements combined with the high-quality design and materials creates an elegant final product. A good example of this is the stone doorway that provides an impactful main entrance to the new wing, the doorway being saved during the demolition of an old exam hall.
This mixing of old and new extends into the external spaces where traditional materials sit alongside modern art installations. The new courtyards, formerly a series of disconnected yards, now provide relaxing places to sit as well as connections between the city centre and university campus.
An Unconventional Site
Of course, the opportunity to work with historic assets is always a privilege and with that comes an element of the unknown and unconventional. We joined the project to provide landscape design services at Stage 3 when the initial design concept was already in place. Our job was to make it buildable. Close coordination and communication were key to achieve the design objectives set out in the original concept design and masterplan.
The quirks to this historic setting included shallow foundations, basements which extended under the courtyards, and extensive service runs. In creating adequate soil volumes and drainage for proposed trees, we also needed to de-risk potential impacts on the heritage assets and services. This highly technical exercise was a tough nut to crack, but enabled us to provide trees which are crucial to achieving the high quality of space.
We are thrilled with the finished result and are really looking forward to seeing the courtyards in full bloom this spring.