Robert Beldam Building

Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Located in the historic centre of Cambridge, adjacent to the Arts Theatre and the listed Eagle Public House, the project involved the construction of College accommodation in the centre of an urban block whose main front faces Kings Parade.

 The fly-tower of the Arts Theatre, which was being extended at the time, dominated the block. The new College rooms are wrapped around the blank walls of the extended fly-tower, effectively disguising its mass, and at the same time giving a more coherent identity to the site by providing a sequence of contained external spaces, starting with the courtyard of the historic Eagle public house.

 The building includes a 150-seat lecture theatre and music practice rooms, as well as study bedrooms for undergraduates and fellows which are grouped in pairs, sharing a kitchen. 

 These spaces are carefully integrated with existing college properties and involved complex reconstruction of adjacent structures, particularly at basement and foundation level. 

Its greatest virtues are the use it makes of formerly wasted land, the quality of the new accommodation and the appropriateness of the new building to its setting.
RIBA Journal

Working on a sensitive site

Working within a constrained area of a sensitive site, at the centre of an occupied and functioning urban block required careful integration of the new building to achieve a harmonious design response, which works sympathetically with a variety of scales and types of buildings encircling it.

 An innovative design solution required the careful consideration of phased construction, with acoustic isolation of key parts to ensure construction work did not affect the operation of the Arts Theatre, offices and public house, and conversely protected student rooms from noise emanating from the theatre and pub.

 Access was incredibly tight, limited to a narrow archway 2.3 wide by 2.5m high, which demanded innovative detail design solutions to allow the building to be constructed from within the site, and in its final state, to form a clear and welcoming entrance to a building that did not have direct street presence.


  • Commendation: Civic Trust Awards