Homerton College, Cambridge appoints MRC to run design competition for emblematic building

Architects encouraged to send a ‘declaration of interest’ to be considered for the long-list

06 Homerton MRC Appointed
© Malcolm Reading Consultants / Alex Ramsay

Homerton College, Cambridge is set to launch a design competition for an emblematic £7m centrepiece building to house a new 300-person dining hall.

The competition will be run by international competition specialist, Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). MRC is currently running the high-profile Illuminated River International Design Competition and recently ran the global competitions for the Museum of London and Tintagel Castle Bridge.

The competition is a hybrid model – combining the advantages of a streamlined invited contest with a wider call for fresh talent. Interested architects are encouraged to send a ‘declaration of interest’ to be considered for inclusion on the long-list (details below).

Homerton, which has one of the largest student communities at Cambridge, is currently undertaking a series of development projects to improve facilities for students and staff. The College is gifted with an extremely attractive and arboreal 25 acre campus, which includes Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, Modernist and contemporary buildings; it is one of the few Cambridge colleges able to house all undergraduates on-site for four years.

Deborah Griffin OBE, Homerton College Bursar, said:

‘We have appointed Malcolm Reading Consultants to search for a design team to create a spectacular building that will be a unique landmark on our campus.
‘We are fortunate in having an expansive leafy site away from the centre of the city, and this project will release the potential of the grounds and honour the College.
‘In recent years, Homerton has become increasingly known for its sociable and friendly atmosphere – we are ambitious to express this in our architecture, to have a building that reflects the College’s values and energies.’

Malcolm Reading, architect and chairman, Malcolm Reading Consultants, said:

‘This is a fascinating project because it reflects a contemporary preoccupation shared by many leading organisations: how to balance the formal with the informal? The College is seeking a team that can create spaces that encourage everyday sociability and serendipitous connections, and also distinguish set-piece ceremonial events.’

MRC is working closely with the College to draw up a long-list of up to 25 practices; these will receive the Search Statement document and will be invited to submit a written Expression of Interest.

Subsequently, the College and its advisers will make a selection of five to six practices to proceed to the second stage of the competition to prepare design concepts. These teams will be interviewed and a winner selected.

Mr Reading continued:

‘We are always looking for fresh talent; we value appetite and enthusiasm, so any architect specially drawn to this project, who has the relevant experience, skills and team, is welcome to get in touch with us now in order to be considered for the long-list. While we respect architects’ panache and confidence, please note this offer does not guarantee you a place automatically.’

The focus for the competition is a new 300-person dining hall and supporting facilities, including kitchen and back-office areas. Aesthetic impact and functionality are of equal importance in the project. The new dining hall will have a direct relationship with the landscape around as well as the contiguous buildings. Key design themes for the second stage of the competition will encompass land use and landscape, access and movement, integration of uses, infrastructure and services, and outstanding environmental performance. The appointed design team will need to collaborate with the design team working on a parallel project to renovate the existing Gothic Revival Great Hall and the links to the new one.

Construction for the 1,400 sqm project is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018.

Interested architects should write to MRC care of [email protected] – sending a short ‘declaration of interest’, explaining why they should be considered, by August 19, 2016.