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Revealed: finalists in Cambridge Uni landscaping contest

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Moxon Architects has been named among the finalist in the contest to redesign the entrance, and the surrounding landscape, for Cambridge University Library

The eight-strong shortlist also includes emerging new practice Atomik Architecture, Beijing-based Tang Jianren Landscape Design and garden expert Marcus Green Horticultural Design.

The list is completed by Belgian newcomer Liesbet Neesen, Pablo Fernández Sanz, Spain’s G226 Arquitectura, Yi Kyu Chloe and a joint entry from Simon Rubin with Blandine Touzeris.

The university launched the design competition last year to ‘encourage creative and unconventional landscape approaches’ to the imposing architecture of the library building.

Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott the University Library was completed in 1934 and features many of the same aesthetic qualities as Scott’s famous Bankside Power Station – now the home of the Tate Modern.

The shortlist of candidates will now work with a Cambridge University academic to refine their proposals and consider the historical, economic and or biological significance of their project before the winning design is announced in September.

Cambridge University is also hoping to use the second stage of the competition to act as a springboard for further discussion and potential research innovation.

With the help of a selected expert, the short-listed entrants will be asked to ‘push their ideas further’ to identify areas of research innovation, to examine the role of Library within the evolution of the city and the University, and to explore new models for public engagement.

The candidates were judged by a panel which included architects, local councillors and academics from a range of disciplines including Cambridge Universities Mary Beard, curator and gallerist Hannah Barry, Liza Fior of MUF, Cambridge councillor Nichola Harrison, University Librarian Anne Jarvis and Landscape Architect Tom Stuart-Smith.

Entrants were given a list of project requirements which they had to consider including how to promote the public use of the space, demonstrate a clear understanding of the environmental and climatic factors affecting the site as well as show a grasp of the location’s range of scales and its character.

Applicants also had to accommodate the range of uses that the Library Building is needed for during an academic year as well as being an important throroughfare for students 24-hours a day.

A winner will be announced in September.


Mike Oades from finalist Atomik said: ‘The project is something completely different from what we have done before, landscape architects is not something we profess to be. 

‘As the project progressed we have grown to love the building. It is out of scale with a lot of the buildings which are around it - but it has a lot of detail and ornament included in its design. We felt that it is crying out for the same level of detail to be given to the landscaping.’


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Readers' comments (1)

  • what other buildings is it out of scale with, please ? So far as I recall and can see from Google Earth, there is only Clare College opposite.

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