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FIRST LOOK

Cambridge theological college completed by Cowper Griffith

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The £6 million project has rationalised 2,500m² of accommodation and facilities on a constrained and sensitive site

Cowper Griffith Architects has completed a £6.1 million redevelopment of Wesley House, a theological college in Jesus Lane, Cambridge. Independent of the University of Cambridge, the academic centre’s main site was sold to Jesus College in 2014, and has since been redeveloped with a Níall McLaughlin building

This resulted in a reduced footprint for Wesley House on which Cowper Griffith has rationalised and accommodated all its original facilities. The redevelopment includes a new library, dining room, upgraded chapel, seminar rooms, offices, and new and refurbished student accommodation.

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Cga wh 0080

Architect’s view

Wesley College has repositioned itself as a postgraduate research institution in recent years, securing a long-term future, but reducing the scale of its accommodation to less than a third of its original size. The constrained and sensitive site, sitting within the north-east part of Cambridge city centre and in close proximity to the listed college chapel, meant that consolidating its facilities has been challenging.

Constructed in 1928, Wesley House’s buildings were designed by Maurice Webb in an Arts and Crafts style, taking inspiration from Morris, Ruskin and Lutyens.

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Cga wh 0033

The new dining room and common spaces have been placed above the porter’s lodge, facing the street to the south and the court to the back, and forming a bridge between public and private domains.

The eastern part of the site, hosting the chapel, has been extended on the north-east corner with 15 new student rooms and a top-lit staircase opening off an existing entrance on the court. The design takes the form and materials of the original buildings but is stripped back with contemporary detailing, stone surrounds and bronze casements.

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Cga wh ne and section

Project data

Start on site January 2015
Completion April 2018
Gross internal floor area 2,500m²
Form of contract JCT Intermediate form of contract
Construction cost £6.1 million
Construction cost per m£2,440
Architect Cowper Griffith Architects 
Principal designer Cowper Griffith Architects 
Client Wesley House
Structural engineer Smith and Wallwork Engineers
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Acoustics Max Fordham
QS Andrew Morton Associates
Heritage consultant Purcell
Project manager Sweett Group
CDM coordinator Sweett Group
Approved building inspector Cambridge Building Control
Main contractor Jerram Falkus Construction

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