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Feilden Fowles wins planning for £8m Cambridge University dining hall

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Feilden Fowles’ £8.2 million dining hall for Homerton College, Cambridge, has won planning permission 

The 1,750m² project next to the Grade II-listed Arts and Crafts Ibberson Building includes a new dining hall, kitchens and associated staff facilities for the university’s largest college.

The London-based practice won a 2017 competition for the project, beating 154 rival bids and a shortlist including dRMM, Caruso St John, Hall McKnight and Walters & Cohen.

Since the competition win, the scheme has increased in size resulting in an uplift in the project value from the original cost of £7 million to £8.2 million.

The new dining hall, described by Feilden Fowles as an ’Arts and Crafts building for the 21st century’, has been commissioned to mark the college’s 250th anniversary.

The new 330-seater hall will be used for both ceremonial events and daily gatherings, with its current Great Hall reserved for performances, lectures and smaller dinners. 

The building features a distinctive valley-shaped roof and includes an informal gathering space – the buttery – that forms an anteroom to the dining hall. 

Edmund Fowles and Eleanor Hedley of Feilden Fowles, said: ’The new dining hall celebrates the integrity and inherent beauty of materials and the craftsmanship of construction, alluding to the social and design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, as reflected in the handsome Ibberson Building.

’We are very excited to be progressing what we hope will be a transformative building for Homerton College, an Arts and Crafts building for the 21st century.’

The competition was run by Malcolm Reading Consultants. 

7. buttery

7. buttery

Architect’s view

From this early concept stage onwards, the project has sought to balance and harmonise the practical and functional demands of the college’s brief for new catering and dining facilities, with social and experiential qualities. The new building creates uplifting and celebratory spaces that will play a key role in the ceremonial events of traditional college life. Equally, the design celebrates the spaces in-between – window seats, niches and courtyard gardens – aiming to create a building that is also comfortable, sociable and familiar to students, for whom Homerton is home during their studies.

The new hall builds on conversations between the various architectural styles already present on the site: Victorian, Gothic and Arts and Crafts. Externally, buttress-like fins soar upwards to express a Gothic sense of verticality, tapering to reveal a crown of clerestory glazing. This dramatic façade is formed from a characterful, hand-glazed faience, which produces a shifting appearance throughout the day and over the change of seasons.

Referencing traditional collegiate halls, the defining feature of the timber-lined interior will be an expressed timber frame butterfly truss, supporting a valley-shaped roof. A rhythm of pigmented concrete columns defines a plinth to the hall, gaining depth at times to form seating niches and creating a colonnade on the east elevation, which embraces views back towards the college. The columns continue into the interior to define the double-height buttery space and adjacent servery, framing an entrance and reception to the north on Harrison Drive.

The kitchens and staff facilities located at the north of the building draw more directly from the rich brick and tile detailing of the neighbouring Ibberson Building. The generous arrangement of kitchen and staff facilities ensures natural light and views to the landscape are maintained, even from preparation and wash-up areas, prioritising the wellbeing of the catering team.

Design evolution feilden fowles homerton

Design evolution - original competition scheme (left), approved scheme (right)

Design evolution - original competition scheme (left), approved scheme (right)

Project data

Project name The New Dining Hall
Address Homerton College, Hills Road, Cambridge
Site area 3,000m² (approx.)
Proposed GIA 1,750m²
Client Homerton College
Architect Feilden Fowles
Project architect Eleanor Hedley
Structural engineer Peter Laidler, Structure Workshop
Quantity surveyor Tim Harwood, Bremner Partnership
Services engineer Carl Brookes, Max Fordham
Project manager Nick Bryant, Ingleton Wood Martindales
Acoustic engineer Josh Rodell, Max Fordham
Sustainability engineer Hero Bennett, Max Fordham
Civil engineer John Bowstead, Peter Dann
Landscape architect Jack Marshall, SEED

2. ground floor plan

APPROVED: Feilden Fowles’ proposals for Homerton College, Cambridge - ground floor plan

APPROVED: Feilden Fowles’ proposals for Homerton College, Cambridge - ground floor plan

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