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FITZWILLIAM’S VISION FOR THE FUTURE Reinterpreting our 1960s heritage to build a 21st century community

SIR DENYS LASDUN (1914-2001) was one of the most internationally admired British architects of the 1950s and 1960s. Fitzwilliam (1961-66) was Lasdun’s first higher education project, and is part of his formative early work. It is closely related to some of his most influential and admired architecture, especially the Grade 1 listed Royal College of Physicians in London. Lasdun’s bestknown work is the National Theatre (1964-76) in London. He was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1977. Fitzwilliam’s architecturally distinctive Central Building, and the ‘inhabited wall’ of student rooms, provided the nucleus for the College’s future growth. Each subsequent phase in the College’s development has its own distinctive imprint and is of its time, but the matrix was established by Lasdun’s design, scale, materials and palette.

Photo: Denys Lasdun at the Royal College of Physicians, London, 1965 (John Donat; RIBA Library Photographs Collection)

For more than five decades, Lasdun’s buildings have been home to successive generations of Fitzwilliam men and women. Now, the necessary updating of Lasdun’s original accommodation presents a wonderful opportunity to improve the student experience at Fitzwilliam. The involvement of our Junior Members from the earliest planning stages has been vital in understanding their future needs. The aim is not just to make these 1960s buildings fit for purpose, but to create student accommodation that will be among the best in Cambridge. Our architects, RH Partnership, were selected for their expertise in bringing 1960s accommodation up to today’s technical and social standards. Respecting the integrity of Lasdun’s original vision, the imaginative retrofitting of our Freshers’ accommodation in A, B and C staircases will result in three ‘houses’ within the Lasdun shell, with shared student flats on each floor. This is an exciting moment. Rethinking the purpose and sustainability of our precious estate is creating many opportunities for alumni and friends who care about preserving Fitzwilliam’s past.

We ask you to join the College as it invests in Fitzwilliam’s architectural future.

Nicola Padfield, Master

CONTACT Dr Helen Bettinson Development Director +44 (0) 1223 332075 Fitzwilliam College Storey’s Way Cambridge CB3 0DG Registered Charity No: 1137496

Visualisation by RH Partnership

STUDENT HOUSE Welcoming Fitzwilliam’s new members into their sustainable new home Approached through a distinctive front porch, each of the three new houses, A, B and C, will be safer and more secure than the existing staircases, and considerably more thermally efficient.

Recognition opportunities for donors will be incorporated into the fabric of the building so that successive generations of students are aware of the generosity that made possible its transformation.


The distinctive visual identity of each house, to be achieved through decoration and finishes, will help foster a sense of shared community within the three flats.


Two new wheelchair-accessible ground floor bedrooms in houses A and B, as well as customised kitchen facilities, will enable Fitzwilliam to offer the same shared-living experience to all new members.


New roof insulation and the latest in window technology, combined with 21st century plumbing and electrics, will reduce the College’s maintenance and heating costs whilst greatly improving the comfort of the twenty residents of each house.

VisualisationsVisualisation by RH Partnership by

RH Partnership

STUDENT FLAT Shared-living social space that fosters lasting friendships Interior window

College friendships are an essential element of student life, and by accommodating Freshers together Fitzwilliam already encourages the formation of friendships from day one. Our students have said that they would like us to go further, however; and through clever re-jigging of Lasdun’s internal layouts, the architects have been able to create new and spacious living areas with both interior and exterior windows. Shared bathrooms and old gyp rooms will be replaced with fresh new social spaces that allow flatmates to cook, eat and relax together. The emphasis will be on interaction and community, with a customisable wall to reflect the character of each year’s group.

STUDENT STUDY-BEDROOM Providing bright comfortable rooms with ensuite shower and basin The architects at RH Partnership have cleverly rethought the space in Lasdun’s original student rooms and applied contemporary design principles to give them a new look and feel. All the study-bedrooms are semi-ensuite and have increased storage space and shelving, yet still feel more spacious than the existing layouts. New, slimmer window profiles mean more light, and double glazing ensures that the rooms will be warmer in winter.

Photos: Dr John Cleaver

ENVIRONMENT Fitzwilliam is committed to upgrading its 1960s buildings using energysaving materials and technology to bring them into line with current standards: Replacing the windows (including the glazed louvre windows in the stairwells) with double glazed composite alternatives, to improve the external fabric of the building. Replacing the parapet-level timber infills with insulated panels will reduce cold-bridging. The existing cavity walls are already filled with insulation. Installing PIR (polyisocyanurate) insulation to the roof will greatly improve thermal performance. Each house will have a glazed porch, creating a thermal buffer to reduce heat loss from the central corridors. Each room will have a shower and basin area, more environmentally friendly than the baths in the current arrangement. Rooms will benefit from new mechanical supply and extract ventilation with heat recovery, providing good air quality and comfortable conditions in winter without the need to open windows. Windows will open for mid-season and summer ventilation.

Visualisation by RH Partnership

Drawing: RIBA Lasdun PA 2099/4 15 Overall Layout and Phase 2 East block, elevation. (Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library, Lasdun Archive.)

Profile for Fitzwilliam College

Fitzwilliam's vision for the future  

Reinterpreting our 1960s heritage to build a 21st century community

Fitzwilliam's vision for the future  

Reinterpreting our 1960s heritage to build a 21st century community