Alison Brooks Architects have been commissioned by Homerton College, Cambridge to design their new main Entrance Building and Children’s Literature Resource Centre after winning a two-stage design competition. Homerton College is the newest College of the University of Cambridge, and home to a talented and diverse community of over 1300 students and 60 Fellows.
The design brief asked for a new entrance appropriate to the size and ambition of the College; including a new Porters’ Lodge which both welcomes first-time visitors and meets the needs of resident students; and to expand the College Library, allowing it to host exhibitions as well as provide study space.
Alison Brooks Architects’ scheme is inspired by the Homerton College campus, its architectural eclecticism and its Arts & Crafts legacy. Our proposed building form is a three storey ‘cube’ with a wide single storey base that extends outward in four directions. In the tradition of the Arts & Crafts house, a sheltering and protective Verandah makes a very clear gesture of welcome toward the Hills Road approach. A long embossed wall and bench direct visitors to the Verandah’s north end and Entrance doors. This vantage point offers glimpses toward majestic campus beyond, while the Foyer itself offers panoramic views from the east to the northwest. Between the Entrance building and the Library is a covered outdoor ‘green corridor’ lined with climbing plants, leading visitors to either the Library entrance to the south, or north to the campus beyond.
Seen from Hills Road, the new Principal Entrance building’s distinctive, lantern-like silhouette can act to shift the Campus circulation toward its geographical centre. The Children’s Literature Resource Centre animates the 1st floor level, above which the Book Storage Archive is poised like a potent ‘crown’. Smooth curves merge these upper storeys with the verandah’s roofs; arched windows imbue facades with rhythm; facades culminate with a cornice-like upward sweep. These idiosyncratic details reinterpret aspects of the Ibberson Building in a natural copper cladding. Paired arched windows emphasize verticality while echoing a lantern’s luminous form.
“We’re delighted with this opportunity to design Homerton College’s new Entrance Building and Children’s Literature Resource Centre as a welcoming ‘lantern’ and multi-purpose hub for the College’s communities. We’re very much inspired by Homerton’s campus, its arts and crafts legacy and we look forward to producing its first net zero mass timber building.” — Alison Brooks
Alison Brooks Architects’ Team: Alison Brooks, Nelson Carvalho, Juliana Rocha, Jana Pakalniete, Myfyr Jones-Evans, Matthew Beck