Woolf Institute, Cambridge

A new permanent new home for the Woolf Institute.


Beacon provided planning and heritage consultancy services to the Woolf Institute to secure permission for their headquarters.

This site is highly constrained. It is within the Central Conservation Area, in the grounds of Westminster College, - a listed building - with a listed boundary wall, some trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders and the grounds designated by the Council as ‘Protected Open Space’.

The building is designed to foster a collegiate atmosphere and includes, a library and research archive, seminar rooms, offices, student accommodation, a quiet room, a research hub as well as a media centre with recording studio. The building also houses research space for a second interdisciplinary research enterprise, the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and can host conferences.

The highly transparent and open design in the public and academic areas mirrors the function of the research institute to encourage discourse, and particularly between the researchers of the three Abrahamic faiths.

Following the grant of permission for the building we assisted in the discharge of conditions and separately secured planning permission for the installation of a sculpture – ‘The Tree of Life’ by the renowned artist Helen Blumenfeld.

The building was short-listed for the Cambridge Design and Construction Award in 2018.


Planning permission and Listed Building Consent was secured in February 2015.

The building was officially opened by HRH Princess Royal on 16 April 2018.

ClientWoolf Institute
Services providedPlanning, heritage advice, application  
BP teamAndy Thompson, Jon Burgess  
Project value£9.5m
ArchitectBB+C Architects
* Images courtesy of ©Richard Fraser
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