Shortlist of six announced for St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

Invited competition focuses on remodelling the College’s social spaces

09 St Catharines College Launch image

Clockwise from top left: Marion Brereton, Hamish McMichael, James Roach and Neil Eaton of BGS Architects, Jay Gort and Fiona Scott of Gort Scott Architects, Stuart Cade and Gavin Miller of MICA Architects, Sandy Wright and Clare Wright of Wright & Wright Architects, Jonathan Sergison, Mark Tuff and Stephen Bates of Sergison Bates architects, David Emond of RH Partnership Architects. Images courtesy of the respective practices.

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge today [25.03.19] announced the six practices competing to remodel the College’s Hall and related social and support spaces, including a new home for its Rare Books and Special Collections.

The teams were chosen from the first stage of the College’s invited competition to select a multidisciplinary team (led by an architect) for the project.

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

  • BGS Architects
  • Gort Scott Architects
  • MICA Architects
  • RH Partnership Architects
  • Sergison Bates architects
  • Wright & Wright Architects

Founded in 1473, St Catharine’s College is one of the oldest members of the University of Cambridge and benefits from a prominent city location on Trumpington Street.

The College is architecturally notable for its unique three-sided 17th-century court, now Grade I listed, designed by Robert Grumbold, an associate of Sir Christopher Wren.

The project at the heart of this invited design competition is focused on redeveloping and reconfiguring key formal and informal social spaces, including the Hall and other dining areas; improving access to the 18th-century Sherlock Library, Senior Combination Room, and the award-winning 2013 McGrath Centre; updating service and support areas; and providing a new home for the College’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

Professor Sir Mark Welland FRS FREng, Master, St Catharine’s College, said:

‘One of the most popular colleges at Cambridge, measured by ratio of applications to student places, St Catharine’s College is, through this project, seeking to solve a number of technical and practical issues. Both set-piece and supporting spaces need a holistic design vision – for they are at the heart of the College experience.
‘We would like to thank all of the teams who entered the first stage of the competition – we were delighted with the great care, thoughtfulness and creativity in every response, and are extremely grateful for their time and efforts.
‘We are very much looking forward to the next stage of the competition – to welcoming all of the teams to the College and to seeing their ideas and concepts come to fruition.’

Malcolm Reading, Chairman of MRC, said:

‘St Catharine’s has a tightly constrained site that has absorbed a succession of architectural styles as the College has grown and flourished over the past 300 years.
‘For this significant project, the College is looking to identify a multidisciplinary team who can deliver a world-class series of spaces while resolving significant technical challenges.
‘We had a strong response to the invited Expression of Interest – these finalist teams all shone in demonstrating their understanding of the College and its requirements for this project – most crucially, balancing the creative with the practical throughout their response.’

At stage one, practices were asked to introduce their teams, highlight relevant experience and provide initial thoughts on the project. At the second stage, finalists will devise concept designs that look to resolve the technical and operational challenges of the site, provide spectacular interiors for the key spaces and address environmental performance, holistic sustainability and heritage significance.

Each will receive an honorarium of £15,000 (incl. VAT) for their work. The winner of the competition is expected to be announced in early summer 2019.