Assemble is working in collaboration with JAM to design a new exhibition and workshop space in a former oil store for Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.
Designed in 1958 by the architects, Sheppard, Robson + Partners, the college is one of only a few in Cambridge that is publicly accessible.
Based on a series of courtyards, set in open green land, the college’s architecture reflects its inception as a place of innovation, science and technology.
The Bill Brown Creative Workshops will build on this legacy, providing new facilities for students to work with digital tools including laser cutters, 3D printers and VR technology.
Oil tanks were previously removed from the store, leaving the simple brick structure empty and open to the elements. The new building will be created by inserting a timber stud frame designed by structural engineers Webb Yates, making use of the the existing footprint and relying on the brick walls for lateral stability.
Light throughout the scheme will be brought in through openable roof lights, which also support the natural ventilation of each room, enabled by the use of the existing concrete ground slab.
This strategy, designed by engineers Ritchie+Daffin, will use the channel in the existing ground slab as a 'labyrinth' to encourage the flow of air, contributing to the natural heating and cooling of the building.
The design necessitates a breathable form of construction, due to the original building having been able to ‘breathe’ on both sides since it was built. As such wood fibre and lime render will provide the insulation and interior finish to allow the new building to work with the existing.
The Bill Brown Creative Workshops is due to open in late 2023.