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Eric Parry Architects echoes Aalto in Triangle Building for University of Cambridge

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The 40,000m² scheme provides a new HQ for Cambridge Assessment, home to the University’s exam boards 

Named after its triangular site, the Triangle Building brings the staff of Cambridge Assessment into one building after being previously spread across eleven locations. Eric Parry Architects’ brief was to create a headquarters that would allow the 160-year-old company, one of the largest employers in the city, to grow on one site. 

The Triangle consists of two main blocks connected with a bridge-like structure and surrounded by open space. The bridge contains a double-height reception marked by a stylised façade of glazed bricks ranging from indigo to cream, that create a street-facing entrance plaza.

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Dl epa ca 5164 online

To the north of the central plaza, an E-shaped block contains office accommodation separated with gardens landscaped by Grant Associates. The C-shaped southern block curves from a prow at its narrowest point to a 39m-tower containing meeting rooms. Its glazed upper storeys are illuminated at night to create a ‘recognisable beacon’.

The material palette of brick, glass and precast concrete is designed to echo mid 20th-century institutional buildings, such as Alvar Aalto’s National Pensions Institute in Helsinki. It also responds to its varied context with the railway line to the east, large-scale offices and the printworks of the Cambridge University Press to the south and west, and newbuild housing, including the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia development to the north. 

Architect’s view 

Cambridge Assessment is one of the world’s most respected education institutions. Our new headquarters, the Triangle Building, provides an inspiring, stimulating and uplifting workspace in surroundings that are commensurate with the international stature and ambition of the organisation. The Triangle Building is a major new academic building in a town renowned throughout the world for its architecture of education and learning. Our design draws on the atmosphere of Cambridge colleges, blending their mix of materials and focus on landscaped exterior spaces with an institutional modernity appropriate to a company headquarters on this scale.

Eric Parry, director, Eric Parry Architects

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Ttp epa zz xx dr a 0040 gf clean (ready)

Source: Eric Parry Architects

Ground floor plan

Project data

Completion September 2018
Gross internal floor area 38,562m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 41,600m²
Form of contract or procurement route NEC Option A Contract, Design & Build, Two Stage Procurement
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Eric Parry Architects
Client Cambridge Assessment
Structural engineer Ramboll UK, Cambridge
M&E consultant Max Fordham
QS Aecom Cambridge
Public art artists Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier Art Consultants: Commission Projects
Interiors BDP Interiors
Catering consultant Tricon
Planning consultant Carter Jonas Cambridge
Landscape consultant Grant Associates, Bath
Acoustic consultant Ramboll UK, Cambridge
Project manager Turner & Townsend
CDM coordinator Sweett Group
Main contractor Bouygues UK
CAD software used Bentley Microstation (RIBA Stages 0 to 2); Revit (RIBA Stage 3) 

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