New Court, Trinity College

Green retrofit and refurbishment of Grade I Listed Building to improve standard of accommodation and enhance its environmental performance.


New Court was built between 1823-5 to a 'Tudor Gothic' design by William Wilkins and has been in use as student accommodation ever since. The building was in need of significant upgrades to meet current environmental health and fire regulations, as well as to enhance its energy efficiency.

Grade I Listed and located within a Registered Park and Garden and a Conservation Area, it was critical to establish the heritage significance of New Court at the outset. This work was instrumental to the project design development and involved more than three years' liaison with English Heritage and Cambridge City Council officers, before concluding in a successful application for Listed Building Consent.

The project will see the refurbishment of 133 study bedrooms, (21 ensuite) and a further four fully accessible ensuite bedrooms. It will also provide a seminar room, tutorial offices, teaching rooms, Fellows' rooms and residential Fellows' sets.

The particularly challenging aspect of the proposals was the desire to enhance the energy efficiency of the building, requiring a careful balance to be struck between preserving its heritage significance and making the building more sustainable. An informative on the decision notice acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the proposals, describing the application as 'exceptional'.

Extensive monitoring and modelling was carried out to better understand the existing performance of the building and its fabric, as well as to model the effects of the proposed interventions. This included WUFI modelling, materials sampling, installing a weather station to corroborate climate data, and monitoring the building's existing temperature and moisture levels.

Using this information, along with the understanding of the heritage significance of the building, the design team arrived at a package of sustainability measures that are calculated to reduce annual carbon emissions by 88% and energy use by 75%. These measures include replacing the existing (though non- original) glass with slimlite units within the existing window frames; installing insulation to the internal face of the outer walls; installing a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system; the use of photovoltaic panels; and installing a ground source heat pump.

Beacon led the extensive liaison between English Heritage, Cambridge City Council and amenity societies, and prepared the Heritage Statement - one of a suite of supporting documents. We also acted as agents, steering the application through the planning process which saw it go before Planning Committee and the National Planning Casework Unit.


Listed Building Consent was granted in February 2013 and work completed in 2016.

The project was the overall winner in the Best Conservation, Alteration or Extension of an Existing Building category and commended in the Sustainability category at the 2016 Cambridge Design and Construction Awards. It has received widespread interest, including a feature in the CIBSE journal.

ClientTrinity College, Cambridge
AppointedJune 2010
Services providedAdvice   Application  
BP teamJon Burgess  
Architect5th Studio
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