The Cambridge Judge Business School achieved fame in the 1990s, when John Outram converted the original Addenbrookes Hospital building in a characteristic exuberant style. This extension occupies space behind the original building, on a very constricted site, pressed hard up against Tennis Court Road at the rear. A large amount of accommodation was required, necessitating very efficient use of space and very careful planning. It is a mark of success that the interiors feel spacious and flowing.
A sublime vision
Architecture firm Stanton Williams’ solution has been realised with the usage of fair-faced concrete (exquisitely executed), with panels of oak boarding, ensuring an orderly, modern feel reminiscent of Khan’s Centre for British Art at Yale.
An aesthetic in full contrast to Outram’s, links the new extension and the existing social hub which enables one to pass from the rich, colourful and slightly mad world of the hub to one of calm, thoughtfulness and contemplation with simple ease. The change in mood is evident.
Achieving the simplicity and quiet elegance found in the Simon Sainsbury Centre, takes a huge amount of effort. Every detail here has been carefully considered and all elements brought together at intersections which have been perfectly executed.
Defining each space
Several successful spaces have been designed and built with specific functions in mind. Of note are the teaching rooms, which contain large windows, and, although the windows face directly onto Tennis Court Road, the geometry of their setting has been so carefully planned that passers-by cannot view the activities taking place within.
In addition, the dining areas, perhaps one of the oldest traditions associated with college life, are clean and modern, using graphics and plywood furniture that resonate with high modern Nordic design. The café has become very popular on campus, attracting students from beyond the business school. The work environment, on floors above the dining and teaching spaces, also has a more utilitarian look and feel, without losing the modern aesthetic.
Particularly impressive is the elevation onto Tennis Court Road. Unable to see this at first glance, the architects always knew that it would be visible at closer range, and as such have designed the proportions and elements accordingly.
The treatment of the ground floor, which has a brick wall made to mask the views of the teaching spaces, has been handled in such a way that it mirrors the old garden wall on the other side of the lane, helping this very modern building to function within its historic context.
Architecture which aims to overcome obstacles and achieve what others would view as impossible, serves as an inspiration to others who want to achieve the same.
Client: University of Cambridge
Awards: RIBA East Award 2019 and RIBA National Award 2019 © Nick Hufton
Contractor: SDC Builders
Internal area: 5 506m²
Acknowledgement and thanks go to Stanton Williams for the information contained in this article.