Downing College Cambridge Building

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Downing College, Cambridge

Traditional Higher Education Buildings in southeast England, UK – English University Architecture

21 May 2017

Downing College Buildings

Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge

Design: Caruso St John Architects

A RIBA East Awards 2017 Winner

Heong Gallery, Downing College | www.e-architect.co.uk
photos © Ioana Marinescu

Jury Report

An unloved area of Downing College consisting of unremarkable buildings has been transformed into an understated but elegant gallery with a well-detailed forecourt.

Heong Gallery, Downing College | www.e-architect.co.uk

The layout of the building is straightforward consisting of two main spaces, foyer and gallery, housed within a former maintenance building that had originally been stables. The gallery has one central roof light orientated to the northeast but treated symmetrically. One generous window frames the views onto the adjacent garden otherwise the space is left for hanging pictures. A subtle distinction has been made between the timber panelled finish to the interior of the roof light and the gallery ceiling soffit and walls that are seen as a plastered insertion into the existing building.

Heong Gallery, Downing College | www.e-architect.co.uk

Timber panelling is also used in the foyer ceiling and breaks up what would have been a monotonous plastered surface. A floor of black encaustic tiles unites the rooms. The interior has the same domestic feel as Jim Ede’s Kettle’s Yard which the architect alludes to. This is reinforced by well-placed fireplace, reclaimed from the original building, which is an invitation to sit down and take a view out of the adjacent window offering another view onto the garden. This simple domesticity nicely contrasts with some of the more magisterial buildings in the gallery’s proximity.

Heong Gallery, Downing College | www.e-architect.co.uk

The approach of simplicity and elegance has been taken through to the external treatment and detailing of benches and cast aluminium rain canopy. The courtyard adds a sense of repose and generosity, giving the college an adaptable but welcoming space. Together with the building this makes a small but important enhancement to Downing College.

Heong Gallery, Downing College | www.e-architect.co.uk

Heong Gallery, Downing College – Building Information

Architect practice: Caruso St John Architects
Date of completion: January 2016
Client company name: Downing College
Project city/town: Cambridge
Contract value: Confidential
Internal area: 178.00 m²
Cost per m²: Confidential
Contractor company name: Buildings Department, Downing College

Consultants:
Structural Engineers: Philip Harvey Associates Ltd
Environmental / M&E Engineers: WSP
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Robert Lombardelli Partnership Ltd
Project Management: Robert Lombardelli Partnership Ltd
Landscape Architects: Studio Karst GmbH
Planning Consultant:Beacon Planning
Daylight Consultant: Arup

Awards: RIBA East Award

Caruso St John

A RIBA East Awards 2017 Winner – Heong Gallery, Downing College Building

Downing College Cambridge

Downing College – Wilkins buildings

Regent St
Date built: 1807-20
William Wilkins, architect

Downing College
photo © Adrian Welch

Major Greek Revival architecture, in terms of quality, novelty and quantity.
Downing College : William Wilkins

Downing College – Quinlan Terry buildings
off Tennis Court Rd; off Regent St
Date built: 1985-87; 1992-93; 1994
Quinlan Terry, architect

Downing College Cambridge
photo © Adrian Welch

Photograph of latest Quinlan Terry building to east : Maitland Robinson Library

Downing College : Quinlan Terry

Downing College Cambridge
Scanned photo © Adrian Welch 1992

Address: Downing College, Cambridge CB2 1DQ

Ed. – I know the campus buildings fairly well, due to my father and brother having attended this college, visiting prior to the controversial works by Quinlan Terry, then revisits as new projects emerged (especially when I lived in Cambridge working first for RMJM then RHP). The site has little of the cosiness of say Pembroke, it has that magisterial splendour routed in Neoclassical architecture. Of course there is the Wilkins connection to the National Gallery which domnates Trafalgar Square below. Here the land is flat and thus the relationship of building to landscape is more equal.


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Senior Combination Room, Downing College
Dates built: 1966-70
Howard, Killick, Partridge & Amis
Modern reinterpretation of neoclassical context

Downing College Cambridge Photos © Adrian Welch

The architect William Wilkins was commissioned by the trustees of the Downing estate, who included the Master of Clare College and St John’s College and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to design the plan for the college. Wilkins, a disciple of the neo-classical architectural style, designed the first wholly campus-based college plan in the world based on a magnificent entrance on Downing Street reaching back to form the largest court in Cambridge, extending to Lensfield Road. But this was not to be.

The estate was much reduced by the suit in Chancery, and the grand plans failed. Much of the north side of what was then the Pembroke Leys was sold to the University and is now home to scientific buildings (“The Downing Site”). In fact, only limited East and West ranges were initially built, with the plans for a library and chapel on the south face of the college shelved.
Source: Wikipedia

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