The 3.5-hectare site on the edge of a historic conservation area housed a disused Victorian primary school alongside derelict buildings and land. Our phased development of the site sought not only to create new education floor space but also to repair and reinstate a small piece of Cambridge’s historic urban fabric.
The first phase, completed in 2014, houses the Faculty of Nursing and Social Care. The 2nd and 3rd phases physically join on to this at upper levels to form a single connected complex of buildings. This complex encloses new, south facing courtyard spaces containing both hard and soft landscaped areas, with pedestrian and cyclist access into the campus on all four sides.
The 2nd phase building has been given a unique façade of copper cladding and a dramatic stepped roof profile, both to identify the lecture theatre volume within but also to signify the campus entrance at one end, whilst stepping down to the scale of neighbouring, Victorian terraced housing at the other. The three buildings comprising the new campus share the same external facing brickwork, structured by dark metal detailing. In contrast, vertical standing-seam cladding in pre-patinated copper accentuates the curved facades of the 2nd phase lecture theatre.
Copper cladding is an extremely durable material that supports the longevity inherent in the other brickwork façades. It also brings a sense of dignity that the University wishes to engender in its buildings to reflect its own values as a high quality Higher Education establishment. The blue-green pre-patination effectively gave straightaway the closest visual match to a natural patinated copper in our opinion – without the 25-year wait for the weather to do the job for us.