SDC to revamp Cambridge’s Stirling Building

The Grade II* listed Stirling Building

Completed in 1968 and designed by James Stirling, the Stirling Building  is considered a landmark in British modern architecture. However, in no longer performs to modern standards.

The Grade II* listed building, which houses the University of Cambridge’s history faculty and Seeley Library, is to be extended and brought up to BREEAM Excellent standards, with reduced energy consumption and solar gain.

The addition of two new pavilions will provide additional library and reading spaces while also improving accessibility to the building.

SDC expects to start construction sometime next year, subject to approvals.

A conservation-led approach is to be adopted, seeking to repair and restore the distinctive style and features of the building, reinstating and reusing original materials, including the glazing.

The capital costs of the refurbishment and extension project, including surveys, construction, fees and VAT, are currently estimated to be around £78m.

Project architect is BDP.  “We recognise that the Stirling Building is a landmark in the history and development of architecture and needs to be treated as such,” said BDP architect director Jessica Mailey.

“It has a remarkable formal inventiveness, synthesising strands of British architectural traditions with the visual culture of the early 20th century. Stirling understood that buildings can carry a philosophical meaning: the design symbolises a community of students and teachers with knowledge, represented by the library, at its physical and symbolic heart.

“Our approach is faithful to the building diagram with the emblematic nature of the architecture as the focal point of the restored building. The work will include some adaptation to the more communal areas of the building to create flexible and inspiring spaces, responsive to the University’s ever-changing requirements, while respecting and responding to Stirling’s stylistic language.”

Northeast view of the remodelled building
Northeast view of the remodelled building

Arup is delivering heritage, civil, structural, façade engineering and access services on the project.

Arup senior architect Graham Epking-Crane said: “The original design of Stirling’s Faculty of History building was a beautiful piece of engineering, with a visually expressed structure creating the unique volumes and distinct character that have made it synonymous with British post-war architecture. Our conservation-led approach to identify and distil the essential elements necessary to preserve its value while addressing the complex structural and technical performance requirements has been vital in understanding how the building can be sensitively yet robustly updated to secure its long-term survival.”

SDC director Dan Changer said: “We are delighted to be selected to assist the University of Cambridge’s estates division with the refurbishment of this architectural modernist jewel. We look forward to the inherent challenge that the project presents: balancing the requirements of heritage conservation principles with the technical resolution of challenges in the fabric design.”

Southwest view of the remodelled building
Southwest view of the remodelled building

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