Trinity College – Challenging project updates listed building
Preserving heritage whilst boosting sustainability was the challenge in a project involving the comprehensive refurbishment and remodelling of the historic Grade 1 Listed New Court building at Trinity College Cambridge, providing 169 highly sustainable student bedrooms and ancillary accommodation.
Located at the heart of Trinity College – between The Backs, the Wren Library and Great Court – New Court houses a large proportion of the college’s second and third year undergraduates – as well as graduates and Fellows, and a number of teaching rooms and offices.
The project was carried out for The Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge. Main contractors were SDC.
New Court was built between 1823-5 in a Tudor Gothic design by William Wilkins and has been in use as student accommodation ever since. The building was in need of significant upgrades to meet current environmental health and fire regulations, as well as to enhance its energy efficiency.
Since the building is located within a Registered Park and Garden and a Conservation Area, it was critical to establish the heritage significance of New Court at the outset.
This work was instrumental to the project design development and involved more than three years’ liaison with English Heritage and Cambridge City Council officers, before concluding in a successful application for Listed Building Consent.
The project provided 133 standard study bedrooms, (21 ensuite) and a further four fully accessible ensuite bedrooms. It also provided a seminar room, tutorial offices, teaching rooms, Fellows’ rooms and residential Fellows’ sets.
The works also included the installation of new heating, hot and cold water, power, lighting, data pipes and cables within fully-accessible distribution routes.
Other works included the reinstatement of the original external rendered facade of the building, restoring its historic character.
A particularly challenging aspect of the scheme was the need to enhance the energy efficiency of the building, requiring a careful balance to be struck between preserving its heritage significance and making the building more sustainable.
Extensive monitoring and modelling was carried out to better understand the existing performance of the building and its fabric, as well as to model the effects of the proposed interventions. This included WUFI modelling, materials sampling, installing a weather station to corroborate climate data, and monitoring the building’s existing temperature and moisture levels.
Using this information, along with the understanding of the heritage significance of the building, the design team arrived at a package of sustainability measures that are calculated to reduce annual carbon emissions by 88% and energy use by 75%.
These measures included replacing the existing (though not original) glass with Slimlite units within the existing window frames; installing insulation to the internal face of the outer walls; installing a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system; the use of photovoltaic panels; and installing a ground source heat pump.
Logistically the site proved very challenging for the construction team. Deliveries of all materials were fully undertaken by them to ensure that any issues were kept to a minimum and a number of smaller vehicles had to be acquired. A large number of banksmen became a permanent fixture in the area for the duration of the works.