Newnham College project involved re-writing brief

Walters & Cohen’ new student halls has opened at Newnham College, Cambridge.

In 2014, Walters & Cohen won an architectural competition to design new accommodation for Newnham.

The original brief was to design a new 75-bedroom student residence at the southern end of the campus, but during the feasibility study an alternative option was developed that integrated new accommodation in among the existing college buildings, leaving the gardens undamaged.

The Dorothy Garrod Building includes a new entrance, conference facilities, a rooftop gym, staff offices, meeting and supervision rooms, as well as 86 student bedrooms with ensuites.

Cindy Walters, director at Walters & Cohen Architects, said: “Since winning the design competition four years ago we have worked with students, administrators, college interest groups and fellows to ensure that the new building meets the needs of the college, fits into its very unique context and delivers 21st-century facilities.

“The new Porters’ Lodge and entrance was the greatest challenge. It offers a warm welcome, connects the street to a new garden, connects the college to a new cafe, conference facility and offices, and contains art and artefacts that are specific to Newnham.”

There are also communal kitchen and social areas, a new cafe and a rooftop terrace.

Nineteen bedrooms and two kitchens in the neighbouring Fawcett building were also refurbished.

Walters & Cohen said the new frontage creates a stronger presence on Sidgwick Avenue without imposing on the historic buildings and gardens.