Located within the Cambridge Historic Core Conservation Area the new student accommodation and with conference facility for Trinity Hall was commissioned to make more efficient use of a brownfield site in a highly sustainable location.
Just off of the main high street, overlooking the River Cam, the four storey building offers University of Cambridge students a total of 72 new ensuite bedrooms with kitchen facilities and a common room area on every floor. WYNG Gardens provides much needed additional space for students and guests and improves the quality of accommodation the College offers.
Partly funded by the WYNG Foundation, the development sits on roughly the same footprint as the former St Clement’s Gardens houses. The old terraced houses were in a poor state of repair, with subsidence issues and cracks both internally and externally and sub-standard amenities. This, combined with poorly conditioned services in constant need of repair - made restoration impossible. The new building picks up on the rhythm of the former terrace of houses with projecting bays and also maintains the ‘set back from the pavement’ aesthetic. It uses traditional materials such as brick and slate mansard roofs behind parapets with stone copings. The building’s interior has been designed to offer a high standard of accommodation for the students of Trinity Hall, providing a further 16 units of undergraduate accommodation than the previous facility. Each room includes a work station with free high-speed internet connection.
Public Art provides a focal point for this new development. Artist Cath Campbell created an intricately woven permanent timber sculptural installation for the south corner of St Clement’s Gardens, beginning at ground level and reaching to the third storey. The artwork creates both a sculptural object and a functional support for a planting scheme that will be trained across the artwork.
The location of the site with no perimeter access required a light weight structural frame and construction needed to fall in line with term times and disruption limited to a minimum. A rapid build system was essential to deliver to these constraints.
Within these limitations engineering the Mansard Roof posed another challenge. The roof structure tapers at 50 degrees, with four sloping sides, which are horizontally split by differing gradients, the lower being much steeper. Propping of the roof structure in its temporary state, ensured the safe installation of the Mansard Roof.
Early planning with the main contractor was essential to ensured all site requirements were met for the delivery and installation of the structure. The use of cross laminated timber as the core structural component, resulted in fewer delays from bad weather and an increased level of accuracy. The lightweight, yet robust structure meant that there was an increased speed of construction, allowing early access for follow on trades which again reduced the overall programme time.
Rectangular in shape, the structure encompasses CLT loadbearing walls both internally and externally. Steel lintels were used above the central corridor to support double spanning CLT floor panels above, whilst steel down stand beams are used to transfer heavy loads at the back of the structure to the entrance gate area.
Cross laminated timber forms the staircase from the ground to the upper floors which incorporate a distinctive arrangement with quarter landings that cantilever from the stair shaft walls. Likewise, the lift shaft structure is constructed with cross laminated timber.
CLT was designed to act as deep beams to allow significant loads at the back of the structure to be transferred around the ground floor’s curved glazed entrance area, with steel ‘goalposts’ used to support the masonry and cross laminated timber beams above. The curve was continued for the full height of the structure with the use of CLT facetted sections and topped with an isometric dome. The roof around the dome was also formed with CLT panels which incorporated large circular notches.
A pitched, slate coloured Mansard Roof tops the remainder of the building, reflecting a number of similar styled roofs in the area. The lower slope of the Mansard Roof involved cross laminated timber wall panels erected on a slope as well as dormer windows, which also utilised CLT, projecting vertically from the sloping roof.
Images: B&K Structures