Homerton College, Cambridge

Homerton College Entrance

A new entrance building and porter's lodge for a College at the University of Cambridge offers the opportunity to reorient the campus masterplan, establish a landmark identity to the city, and provide a variety of social gathering spaces for the College community.

Awards

2020 Invited Competition Shortlist

A New Way In

Our masterplan integrates the new building into its College setting and creates powerful new visual connections to existing College landmarks.

The new entrance building is sited to establish a confident presence on Hills Road aligned with existing frontage lines. The siting creates two new quadrangle spaces that raise the quality of the front landscape and create new social spaces that increase the opportunities for outdoor activities and social engagements.

A new west quad – situated between the existing library and the new entrance building– will be an activated social space; a new south quad – accessed directly from the southern colonnade- is enclosed by a hedge to offer a more contemplative space overlooked by workspaces.

Vehicle, cycle and pedestrian entrances are separated to clarify circulation and improve visitor experience. The main pedestrian entrance coincides with the position of the existing entrance.

The entrance experience is enhanced with a generous forecourt, providing fully-inclusive, step-free access to the Porter’s Lodge and Gallery. A rythmic facade of stone portals frame a covered colonnade, which passes through the building to arrive in the new West Quad.  New pathes follow direct views that lead to key College buildings, including the Great Hall, the Cavendish Building and the new Dining Hall.

The structure is crafted from high-quality and low-carbon materials that provide both structure and finish for long-term durability.  Reinforced red sandstone columns and beams span from front to back façades.  A lattice of natural timber joists from local UK forests spans between these stone portals. The joists will in turn support thin stone slabs that will form the ceiling.

The Porters Lodge

This is a welcoming space sheltered by a covered portico on the east and west sides of the building.

The reception is arranged to allow passive observation of the main entrance colonnade.  Large shaded windows offer clear views out, while making the porters visible to visitors.  The colonnade offers a single lock-down gate that can be easily closed.

Ancillary support spaces are arranged behind the main reception including staff work and welfare space, the mail room, WC’s and a treatment room.

A Library for Wondrous Stories

At the centre of the building, a distinctive new reading room houses and celebrates the College’s unique collection of children’s books.  A double height rotunda introduces diffuse, clerestory light into an almost circular shelf-lined reading room below.  The space is roofed with an inverted dome ceiling, evoking a floating moon — an ever-present motif in children’s literature.

Almost circular in plan, the north-west corner of the room is squared to inflect towards the Great Hall and create extra space for furniture.  Additional reader spaces are provided for the existing library by creating a glazed walkway overlooking the new west quad.

 

The reading room is insulated from the noise by a buffer of storage spaces. On the west side, windows overlook planting in the new quad, and visually connect to the main library. Full height doors open into the gallery space, and the reading room is directly connected to the staff workspace and a seminar room.

Clerestory windows in the library incorporate stained glass creating a distinct atmosphere. Day and night, the library will appear like a magical lantern — a landmark to passing traffic on Hills Road, and a signal orientation point within the College grounds.

Public Facing Gallery

The gallery is a generous volume with a visible presence on Hills Road, revealing ongoing exhibitions and activity to passers-by.  The west wall is lined with fitted display cabinets, while loose display tables can suit a changing programme of events.  The library interior is glimpsed through tall stained glass doors, which can be opened to the gallery for special events. The location and the flexible design also makes the space suitable for private-hire events.

Name:
Homerton College Entrance
Client:
Homerton College, Cambridge
Date:
August 2021
Location:
Cambridge, UK
Status:
Competition
Budget:
£3m
Team:
Alan DempseyAyo AkinolaGina ZachariasJoe DentAbigail Sayers
Collaborators:
Structural Engineers: Webb Yates Services Engineers: Webb Yates Landscape Architect: Todd Longstaffe Gowan Lighting: DHA Design