Homerton College, Cambridge appointed MRC to run a design competition for an emblematic £7m centrepiece building to house a new 300-person dining hall. Homerton – the newest of Cambridge’s 31 colleges and the largest by total number of undergraduate and postgraduate students – is currently undertaking a series of development projects to improve facilities for students and staff.
Contemporary in inspiration, the new building will need to create a stage for formal set-piece occasions while also encouraging everyday, serendipitous interactions. With the College celebrating 250 years in 2018, this is a building which could set the character for Homerton for the next 250 years.
The College is gifted with an extremely attractive and arboreal 25 acre campus, which includes Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, Modernist and contemporary buildings.
The College was keen to broaden the reach of a typical invited competition. MRC advised on a new process: a pre-launch stage to the competition in which architects were invited to submit a declaration of interest for inclusion on the long-list for the first stage. Following the placing of news stories in the architectural media, an astonishing 155 practices submitted declarations. These included both emerging local practices and celebrated international firms.
MRC worked closely with the College to draw up a long-list of 24 practices who were invited to submit a written Expression of Interest. From these, the College and its advisers made a selection of five practices to proceed to the design stage of the competition. After the competition jury – made up of representatives of the College and advised by Malcolm Reading and David Hamilton – met to interview the shortlisted teams, Feilden Fowles was unanimously selected as the winner.
The competition jury praised the winning team for their emphasis on craftsmanship, their collaborative approach, and a design which subtly related to the College’s ensemble of existing buildings and the garden setting.
Fergus Feilden, Director of Feilden Fowles, said:
‘We are thrilled to win this open competition to design the new dining hall for Homerton College. We feel very honoured to be given the opportunity ahead of more established practices and feel it reflects the genuine openness of the competition process, as well as the College’s belief in investing in young talent.’