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Witherford Watson Mann lands £20m Cambridge college refurb

Clare College in Cambridge has appointed Stirling Prize-winning architect Witherford Watson Mann to lead on the £20million refurbishment of its grade I-listed Old Court building

The scheme - for which funding is still being sought - will include external repairs and conservation for the existing structure, as well as enhanced student accommodation and improved catering and entertainment facilities for the college’s conference business.

Witherford Watson Mann will lead on the redevelopment work while Henry Freedland of Cambridge-based architects Freeland Rees Roberts, will oversee the heritage aspects of the scheme, which will include roof repairs and maintenance.

Bursar Paul Warren said the college was keen to get Witherford Watson Mann’s ideas on ways additional space could be created by excavation or better use of the 17th century Old Court’s cellars.

However, he added that the architects would have to contend with the historic building’s proximity to the River Cam and water-table issues.

Warren said the college had been looking to refurbish Old Court for several years, and that Witherford Watson Mann and Freedland had been selected after interviews with around seven practices including ‘one or two’ big names.

‘We created a working party of fellows that included architecture professor [and former AJ editor] Peter Carolin,’ he said.

‘After the interviews we created a shortlist of four firms, and then finally decided to take an approach that included a combination of firms.’

Warren declined to name the list of practices interviewed for the project.

He said the college was roughly one-third of the way towards raising the project’s anticipated £20million cost, and that work was expected to commence within three or four years.

Old Court, which is grade I-listed, contains the college’s Great Hall and Buttery as well as common rooms for graduate and undergraduate students. It was built between 1638 and 1715.

van Heyningen and Haward Architects completed the college’s £6.3million New Court building in 2009.

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