St Catharine’s College Cambridge
Transforming the heart of the College
Won through invited design competition in 2019, we have designed a new vision for St Catharine’s College, featuring a remodelled Dining Hall with lantern rooflight at the heart of the campus. Following a process of forensic investigation evaluating heritage assets, social spaces and circulation routes, we have reordered programmatic elements in response to the College’s unique qualities, strengthening site coherence and ensuring accessibility for all users in line with the College’s vision.
The College has had a presence on site since 1473. Today, the Grade-I listed 17th Century Court designed by Robert Grumbold, a contemporary of Sir Christopher Wren, forms an integral part of the college experience. However, despite the prominent court, the site lacks spatial coherence and key spaces are difficult to access. Visually, the existing material palette of Portland Stone, render and brickwork denies any coherence between the College buildings that span 400 years.
Informed by an in-depth study of the individual diner, the Dining Hall will be remodelled both in proportion and height, and a new Gallery to the Hall borrows from the College’s architectural heritage, providing space for performances during events. Internal spaces will be upgraded including the Sherlock Library and Rare Books Collection – relocated to the main court for improved access, visibility and conservation. The kitchens and servery will also be consolidated for efficient operations to the Dining Hall and new ancillary function rooms. Eating and the preparation of food are central to the culture of the College, so the Hall is inevitably of high communal significance. The project is an opportunity to express the culture of the College as it is now. The design is a new layer of history which respects the old.
A new glazed atrium and Garden Room to Chapel Court will orientate the user and integrate formerly incongruent spaces. Against the backdrop of Chapel Court, the Garden Room will become a vibrant space for use during conferences and an informal social space for students, allowing collaborative working to spill out from nearby study spaces.
The proposed material palette will unify the existing buildings in both texture and hue. The architectural language will sensitively respond to the site’s heritage whilst retaining a distinct, contemporary identity.
- St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
- Gort Scott Team
- Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Chris Neve, Joe Mac Mahon, Sela-Jaymes Taylor, Amy Wong, Zeina Derry, Ciaran Scannell, Thom Wood-Jones
- Marcus Beale Architects (Heritage Consultant), EngineersHRW (Structural Engineer), Max Fordham (MEP and Sustainability, Lighting, Acoustics), Keith Winton Design (Catering Consultant), Henry Riley (Cost Consultant, Project Manager, Principal Designer), Turley (Planning Consultant), QODA (Rare Books Consultant), ARUP (Fire Consultant)