British Listed Buildings

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Cambridge University Centre, Cambridge

Description: Cambridge University Centre

Grade: II
Date Listed: 18 February 2013
Building ID: 1407952

OS Grid Reference: TL4472858001
OS Grid Coordinates: 544731, 257995
Latitude/Longitude: 52.2012, 0.1164

Locality: Cambridge
Local Authority: Cambridge City Council
County: Cambridgeshire
Postcode: CB2 1RU

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Listing Text


Cambridge University Centre, designed by Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis (HKPA) in 1963 and completed in 1967 with structural engineers Samuely and Partners and William Sindall Ltd as the main contractor.

Reason for Listing

The Cambridge University Centre, Granta Place, completed in 1967, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

*Architectural Interest: the building combines a thoughtful, compact plan with a sophisticated exterior treatment and design which is consistently carried through to the interior. The use of the exposed concrete frame and bolted Portland stone cladding provides a distinctive, rhythmic design representative of the New Brutalist aesthetic in a sensitive historic location;

* Architects: the University Centre is a significant building by the architectural practice of HKPA, whose prowess in the field of post-war university building design is widely acknowledged and attested by their listed buildings at the Universities of Oxford, Birmingham and Warwick;

* Interior: the use of pre-cast concrete interior detailing, distinguished from the frame by the smooth and polished finish, and the simple use of quality materials, accentuates the meticulous attention to detail attested by the chamfered concrete columns, distinguished staircase treatment and entrance doors;

* Alteration: the alterations to the University Centre are acknowledged, but when considered in the round, the exterior of the University Centre remains largely intact and the interior spaces, which were designed to be flexible, retain the concrete detailing, exposed roof structure and stairs.


The University Centre was constructed as a response to the 1962 Bridges Committee which identified a need for a meeting place for non-collegiate graduates and teachers. It was constructed at a cost of c £330,000 and funded by the Wolfson Foundation. Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis Architects designed the building in 1963 with construction completed in 1967. The building received a Civic Trust Award in 1968 and a Concrete Society Commendation.

A number of additions and alterations have occurred since the building was constructed. These include the replacement of external doors and internal and external glazing, the addition of an external fire escape and a new cold room, and extensions to the boiler room. Internally, most of the main rooms have been refurbished and some have been reconfigured.


Cambridge University Centre, designed by Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis (HKPA) in 1963 and completed in 1967 with structural engineers Samuely and Partners and William Sindall Ltd as the main contractor.

A pre-fabricated, concrete-framed structure with distinctive Portland stone cladding on the upper three storeys of the west and south elevations, attached with exposed stainless steel rods, washers and domed bolts.

The plan-form comprises a central space to the rear, double-height on the second and third floors with ranges to the west (known as riverside) and to the south.

Four storeys in height, the architectural treatment on the west and south upper three storeys comprises vertically and horizontally emphasised modules with angled recesses between each bay. The bands of fenestration have replaced bronze-coloured metal frames and are set into the concrete. The west elevation of 4 bays has a ground floor constructed of purple-red brick and an off-centre projecting board-marked concrete turret housing the emergency stairs which lead to the (now closed) roof terraced complete with over-sailing parapet and concrete benches. The recessed main entrance to the right (south) of the turret leads to a vestibule. On the 3-bay south elevation, the upper three storeys are supported on columns allowing ground-floor parking and access to the plant area to the rear. On the 4-bay north elevation, the three eastern bays are constructed of concrete blockwork with the framing exposed, punctuated by ranges of clerestory windows in the two central bays. A later C20 projecting concrete stairwell demarcates the end of the stone cladding which wraps around the north-west corner.

The exposed framing represents a continuous architectural theme, reflected too in some of the interior details such as the bolted, lime-washed doors. The concrete frame is exposed throughout with expressed 'T' joints and freestanding columns to the outer walls that maintain the motif of chamfered recesses along the main facade and whose broad capitals support a double ring-beam. Access to the main stairs is from the vestibule. The open-tread staircase, set around paired columns with a thick timber handrail and lead-covered treads, rises through the height of the building and overlooks the dining room on the second and third floors through a glazed screen. The layout centres on the main dining space to the rear, also with angled corners, with its pyramid timber-clad roof supported by steel and timber trusses, the kitchens being located on the floor levels below. The corridors to the south and west allow permeability at each level, accessing various common rooms, restaurants and meeting places. The common rooms have flexible partitioning set within the frame comprising folding limed timber screens with square panels.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.