This project combined conservation, refurbishment, alterations and a new extension to the medieval Grade I listed School of Pythagoras to provide a new accessible college archive, including study and visitor facilities. The archive had a complex servicing and security brief to achieve BS 5454.
This was a project located in a highly-designated context – a Grade I listed building, next to two Grade II* listed buildings, within a Conservation Area, and in a Registered Park landscape. It comprised the radical re-modelling of a significant building, in this case medieval, where high design standards (and some delight) were paramount to achieving consents.
The brief was also to give the organisation – and the function of the building – the right identity, thereby facilitating a transformative effect. From an outwardly “closed” appearance, the building has become open and accessible.
A series of comprehensively tested options appraisals concluded with the proposal to effectively turn the use and approach to the building through 180 degrees to achieve the ambitious benefits. Technical challenges included elegantly integrating hidden services in this sensitive context and mastering vertical circulation.
The project was executed on a live site that remained open to use during the construction period. Sequencing of the works, together with site logistics and vehicle movements, were carefully planned to allow the client organisation to stay in operation.
A particular feature of this project was the very careful evaluation of the existing historic building and context, using a conservation management planning methodology. There was detailed briefing consultation with the client building committees and a series of consultations with the local planning authority, conservation department and Historic England to secure approvals. The highest standards of design were ultimately persuasive of the benefits of this bold scheme.
The setting of the Grade I listed buildings could hardly have been more sensitive and Caroe Architecture Ltd has been able to deliver the highest quality of design and material resolution to an exacting brief.
The project was awarded the Cambridge City Refurbishment and Conservation Project of the Year Award.