West Court Jesus College, Cambridge

Old-fashioned materials yet thoroughly modern

West Court Jesus College.
West Court Jesus College. Credit: Nick Kane

Niall McLaughlin Architects for Jesus College
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 4,140m²

This extension to Jesus College manages the difficult trick of feeling old-fashioned in its handcrafted materials such as oak, elm, red clay floor tiles and red brick, while being entirely modern in its loose geometry, daylighting and simplicity of form. Facing Jesus Lane, the building extends an existing structural frame by two floors, providing hotel rooms to generate income. By setting back the top facing the court, it completes the parapet line of its neighbours, while four storeys are appropriate toward the street. This level of judgement is carried through.

  • West Court Jesus College.
    West Court Jesus College. Credit: Nick Kane
  • West Court Jesus College.
    West Court Jesus College. Credit: Nick Kane
  • West Court Jesus College.
    West Court Jesus College. Credit: Nick Kane
  • West Court Jesus College.
    West Court Jesus College. Credit: Nick Kane
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The north elevation delicately steps between two scales and is completed by huge oak windows. The transition to the adjoining building is achieved with the ‘pivot’ of a lantern tower. A walk through the building reveals further alterations, including a new basement conference centre. Everywhere the architecture is based on weighty, characterful materials. The sequence of spaces seems inevitable, but we know they took skill and determination to deliver.

Project Architect of the Year, sponsored by Taylor Maxwell

See more winners in the RIBA Regional Awards – East