img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2939831959404383&ev=PageView&noscript=1")

John Bradfield Court, Cambridge

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Allies and Morrison’s architecturally ambitious addition to Darwin College Cambridge’s rich collage of buildings wins a 2024 RIBA East Award

John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse

2024 RIBA East Award

John Bradfield Court, Cambridge
Allies and Morrison for Darwin College, University of Cambridge
Contract value: Confidential 
GIA: 707.5m2

Nestled on the banks of the River Cam, Darwin College Cambridge is an assembly of 18th and 19th century domestic architecture, distinguished 20th century collegiate buildings and a riverside landscape. John Bradfield Court is the most recent addition to this rich collage of buildings and layering of historical periods. It defines the edge of the college closest to the city, creating a new entrance and adding the distinctive sculptural form of a new multi-purpose space. It also addresses the oldest part of the college, restoring the Grade II-listed Old Granary. Remodelled into residential use in the 1880s by architect JJ Stevenson, the Old Granary had been converted into student accommodation in the 1960s with little consideration to the quality of its historic spaces. Allies and Morrison has now restored it in an exemplary fashion, delivering contemporary student accommodation while re-establishing the character and integrity of the original building.

  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Nick Guttridge
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Nick Guttridge
1234

The multi-purpose space, the John Bradfield Room, is a small but architecturally ambitious intervention. The unusual, steeply pitched roof, reminiscent of the nearby maltings, gives the building a strong and distinctive presence in its sensitive historical location. Viewed from the street over the college’s perimeter wall, it forms a picturesque composition with the varied forms of the college’s existing buildings. Internally, the room resembles a monastic chapterhouse in its combination of a lofty, light-filled volume and perimeter bench seating. It provides the college with a much-needed meeting and event space, distinct from the domestic-scaled spaces of its older buildings or the larger communal spaces created in the 1960s when the college was founded.

The restoration of the Old Granary has achieved a subtle and intelligent transformation which allows the original building to speak for itself, rather than emphasising the new interventions. It delivers highly characterful rooms, with no compromises on the quality of space or integrity of the historic building, while providing ensuite bathrooms together with modern services and facilities. Services installations are carefully integrated, including fully concealed grilles for mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. Space for bathrooms has been found through the conversion of secondary spaces rather than the subdivision of primary rooms.

  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Jack Hobhouse
  • John Bradfield Court. Credit: Nick Guttridge
    John Bradfield Court. Credit: Nick Guttridge
12345

The brick and timber structure of the Old Granary has been exposed wherever possible, maintaining the identity of the historic building, and is complemented by the use of traditional materials such as lime plaster. The resulting accommodation provides generous light-filled rooms which have the idiosyncrasy and character associated with a historic building, coupled with contemporary facilities and comfort levels.

The thoughtfulness which characterises the entire project is evident in its approach to sustainability. Passive strategies have been used wherever possible, including a fabric-first approach to the new building and enhancement of the performance of the historic building. This is coupled with the use of heat-recovery and low-carbon technologies, including a ground-source heat pump.

Together, the two complementary elements of the scheme exemplify the successful combination of contemporary intervention and carefully considered conservation, reflecting the unusual character and evolutionary development of the college as a whole.

See the rest of the RIBA East winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Messenger
Structural engineer CAR
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant DR Nolans and Co
Landscape architect BHSLA
Acoustic/services engineer Max Fordham

 

Credit: Allies and Morrison
Credit: Allies and Morrison
Credit: Allies and Morrison
Credit: Allies and Morrison
Credit: Allies and Morrison

Latest articles

Webinar: Addressing Onsite Safety using Fall Protection Systems

  1. Products

Webinar: Addressing Onsite Safety using Fall Protection Systems

PiP Design for Sustainability Webinar 2024

  1. Products

PiP Design for Sustainability Webinar 2024