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Down by the Riverside   
31 May 2018 | Posted by Jon Burgess
Works at Old Court, Clare College including an exciting new dining facility next to the River Cam, were approved in April 2018 supported by detailed planning work by Beacon.

The Grade I listed Old Court at Clare College is an outstanding example of C17 architecture with virtually unaltered formal facades to the court, to the river, to King’s College and to Trinity Lane. Its dining facilities, despite extensive internal alterations in the 1970s, are inadequate for the College needs, disabled access is poor and some parts of the building require repair and upgrading.

Following an initial meeting with Cambridge City Council and Historic England, Beacon were asked to assess the College’s future needs, consider the constraints and opportunities across its entire campus and produce a masterplan. This quickly showed the need for a new dining space at the heart of the College and that the one opportunity would be to squeeze this into the space between the Master’s Garden and Trinity Hall Walls.

The site links to the north passage – the College’s service entrance - and so the opportunity for enhancing this workaday space was quickly identified as was the need to improve access for all into the formal rooms of the College which adjoin it.

We have worked with a design team including architects Witherford Watson Mann and Freeland Rees Roberts to develop the scheme and lead the consultations with the City Council and Historic England. Planning and Listed Building Consent were approved in April 2018 with no objections raised by any party to the proposals.

The new dining facility ‘River Wing’ will have an aspect to the river and will link to the enhanced existing facilities. The north passage will be massively improved whilst maintaining its ‘organic’ appearance which contrasts but does not obstruct the formal river elevation when viewed from Garrett Hostel Bridge. For the first time in the College’s history, disabled access will be possible from Old Court direct to the Hall and to the SCR and Fellows’ Library by means of an ingenious lift which when not in use is indistinguishable from the steps it sits within.

The new facility is an outstanding example of what can be achieved even in the most historic of environments when there is positive dialogue between the client its design team and the local authority / Historic England. The first phase of work is due to commence in Summer 2018.