A Study of the Cambridge Faculty of History Building

A Study of the Cambridge Faculty of History Building

The Faculty of History edifice at Cambridge was the 2nd of legion university edifices designed by James Stirling. Working in partnership with James Gowen, Stirling’s foremost University undertaking, the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester encompassed four interesting design brief judicial admissions, two of which appear to hold exerted some influence on the external visual aspect and design composing of the Faculty of History edifice at Cambridge.

For the University of Leicester undertaking, laboratory work infinite was required to be flexible with respect to constellation in order to run into the altering demands of experimentation and research lab work, a construction was required capable of lodging a H2O armored combat vehicle for hydraulic intents at a tallness of 100 pess above land degree, direct sunshine was to be avoided due to instrumentation sensitiveness, and eventually, exposed concrete could be used as a seeable exterior coating. Harmonizing to John Jacobus, the result is a “form that is rich in coloring material and surface, but its forms are ne’er gratuitous, and, what’s more, none of them looks notional, in malice of their freshness. It is a functional edifice that looks functional, a factory-like research lab and schoolroom edifice which gives every visual aspect of being merely that ; a mill for survey ( but non, decidedly, an instruction mill ) ( footer: 1964 April: Technology Building, Leicester university by James Stirling ( Leicester, UK ) by John Jacobus, Architectural Review, 28 March 2011 ) .

The design brief judicial admissions with regard to exterior finish and the restriction on direct sunshine resulted in extended usage of north confronting glassy facets surrounded by and juxtaposed against visually dominant ruddy brickwork consisting full lifts, a bold horizontal facade organizing exterior facing for the high degree country suiting the H2O armored combat vehicle, and, multiple narrow perpendicular columns. Although strikingly different in result, one can non assist pulling analogues between the Leicester and Cambridge edifices and reasoning that some inspiration for the Cambridge edifice was drawn from Stirling’s first University design authorization. Both edifices portion huge sweeps of glass interrupted by ruddy brickwork that creates a powerful yet heavy statement.

Stirling and Gowen parted company station completion of the Leicester undertaking, go forthing Stirling to finish the design and compete for the Cambridge authorization without any design burden associated with partnership for his concluding competition entry. The design of the Cambridge edifice was completed in 1963 with Stirling emerging as victor of the design competition. Following a re-orientation of the proposed edifice from a Southwest to a Southeast facing way, building commenced in 1964 and was concluded in 1968.

The edifice is situated on the Sidgwick site and houses the Seeley Historical library. In supplying a on the job infinite for up to 300 people, every bit good as a little figure of computing machines, it is one of the largest libraries belonging to the University of Cambridge web of libraries. Once in usage, assorted defects both in footings of design and building item came to visible radiation. Practical defects included thermic public presentation associated with individual tegument glazing and roof escape. Argument environing the edifice centred on map versus signifier and for many regular users, the library was regarded as a infinite non suited to work within. In 1984, about 16 old ages after gap, the History Faculty was at hazard of destruction before a determination was made to modify the bing edifice in order to continue the successful elements of the edifice whilst rectifying those facets regarded as flawed.

In this survey I will be concentrating on the exterior design of the History module, and how some of Stirling’s design picks impact the experiential quality of the library.

The Faculty of History edifice can be regarded as the Centre of the Sidgwick site as it is situated at an intersection point, with multiple tracts meeting on it. Consequently, the edifice has four chief entrywaies, with one at each corner. Since the edifice is approached and discernible from assorted waies as a consequence of being sited at an intersection, the overall ocular facet, presence and exterior quality of the edifice are of great importance. One drawback of being sited at an intersection is the presence of other edifices.

With the History edifice surrounded on all sides by other edifices, it is unable to maximize its standalone individuality every bit good as its ability to come to life during two of the most inspiring light facet periods of the twenty-four hours. While environing edifices are all within close propinquity to the History Faculty, none of them are of great tallness, which does travel some manner towards cut downing their intervention with sunshine and their ability to supply distraction versus the centerpiece. Nevertheless, the History building’s inability to bask uninterrupted exposure to direct sunshine at dawn and sundown oes non let the edifice to bring forth the maximal impact of direct utmost ague angle sunshine on the edifice. Full exposure to near horizontal sunshine would bring forth all possible results associating to the contemplation and refraction of sunshine. For the bulk of perceivers, this hindrance will non be given great consideration as the library clears at 9am, by which clip the Sun is high plenty in the sky for the edifices South of the History Faculty non to move as a barrier. Additionally, the lowest of the surrounding edifices is positioned on the west side of the library therefore understating the sum of clip lost to sunset light effects generated by the edifice.

At its most basic degree, the edifice is composed of two primary signifiers ; a huge, individual storey country, triangular in program which is set within an L-shaped multi-storey construction. The Seeley library occupies the individual floor infinite, which is unfastened to all members of the university, while the multi-storey construction provides offices infinite, meeting suites and talk suites for staff and pupils of the History section. The overall signifier is successful as it allows the library to be placed at the bosom of edifice supplying both ocular and physical benefits.

The edifice has a strengthened concrete frame with a steel roof supplying structural unity while the outside is clad in stretcher bonded ruddy brick and exhibits non-structural patent glazing. This method of adhering provides a ocular uniformity and repeat that emphasises the separate elements of the edifice together. The huge bulk of the edifice is in fact glazed, which provides superior degrees of natural light interior and creates an interesting visual aspect on the exterior through the contemplations that vary harmonizing to both the clip of twenty-four hours and conditions conditions. Similar to the masonry, the glazing is unvarying in its clear divisions of panels, giving the glass a presence while staying visually lightweight. The primary stuffs seeable on the inside are pigment and tile. Harmonizing to Stirling this combination produced an aesthetic that could be likened to a Television Studio ( commendation needed ) .

The most impressive characteristic of the edifice is it’s tiered, pitched, glazed roof that covers the cardinal reading country of the library. The design is symmetrical along its short axis, as can be seen when sing the edifice from the sou’-east. From this peculiar point of view it could be argued that glazing is overused and that the inclusion of more ruddy brick, peculiarly towards the base of the edifice, would hold created a more grounded aesthetic with better balance. While the roof successfully manages natural visible radiation in the library country, there is a ocular struggle between the masonry and the library roof. Puting the visually heavy and baronial ruddy brick cladding against the weightless glazing seems to propose a cardinal desire to make a strong contrast between different parts of the edifice. However, the roof is really heavy in its angular and over defined signifier. It is likely that the edifice would hold benefitted from more nuance in this country.

Another of import external characteristic is the buttress-like signifier of the multi-storey, L-shape portion of the edifice. Not merely is it visually attention-getting, it besides creates a sense structural surety and foundation that is absent from other countries of the external design. This signifier determines and articulates the plan for the edifice ; the smallest suites, situated on the top floor can merely be occupied by offices, while the larger suites on the lower floors can be used as meeting suites and for talks as the infinite permits.

One facet of the outside that detracts from the ocular impact of the edifice is the big raised platform adjoined to the north frontage. The platform is by no agencies redundant as it provides an entryway to the edifice and entree to the roof leting for care. However, its inordinate size means that most of the infinite is presently disused. One possible betterment, capable to structural capacity, would be to make a insouciant outdoor siting country. This is something that the Sidgwick site presently lacks and by virtuousness of being on a raised platform would help in making a clear differentiation between the formal working infinite and an informal community infinite.

In the initial designs the glassy library roof faced southwest. However, due to limitations sing the land ownership, the full edifice had to be rotated 90 grades towards the E. As a consequence, the multi-storey construction covers portion of the library roof in shadow during the afternoon. Clearly this has a negative impact on the lighting of the library in the afternoon and resulted in inordinate thermic addition during the forenoon. Interestingly, no changes were made to the building’s design to counterbalance for the alteration in orientation. Had there been no ownership limitations the library would hold enjoyed natural visible radiation until well later in the twenty-four hours, which would hold been a discriminatory result topic to satisfactory thermic provisioning.

Upon come ining the edifice it becomes evident that the library is set below land degree, this design pick has both its advantages and disadvantages. Students working in the library can profit from both high degrees of privateness and an absence of oculus degree distraction ; the below land degree facet eliminates all mode of communicating with those outside the edifice. One possible negative result of the below land agreement is the deficiency of outward ocular facet for those passing drawn-out periods of clip in the library. Without the copiousness of natural light deluging in from the glassy roof, this infinite could hold been at hazard of being a cheerless environment. The working country of the library is arranged as a radial in forepart of a raised response country. This provides those working at response with an unobstructed position of the library, hence leting easy monitoring of library users and discouraging any actions that are non suited within the library.

This determination to put the library below land degree, combined with the floor to ceiling glazed facade gives this portion of the edifice an uneasy natation quality, as the burden bearing wall back uping the glass and the construction above is non seeable from the exterior. Possibly Stirling was seeking to make the feeling that the glass provides the structural support, when this is clearly non possible. Additionally, positioning the library below land seems to dispute the extended execution of glazing, the intent of which is to convey natural visible radiation into the library. This is a minor ailment as there is no existent deficiency of visible radiation in the library.

An facet of the edifice that I peculiarly appreciate is the contemplation of the exterior signifier on the inside layout. This is most prevailing in the library, where the L-shaped construction forms the boundary of the cardinal reading country and the tabular arraies and bookshelves follow the signifier of the glassy roof construction that sits straight supra. This gives the edifice a great sense of coherency and makes the passage between interior and exterior infinites really natural.

The cardinal reading country of the library can trust on natural visible radiation depending on the clip of twelvemonth for the bulk of its 9am-7:30pm gap hours, all because of the roof. At an angle of about 40 grades the roof Lashkar-e-Taibas in far more light than standard perpendicular glazed facades with solid roofs. Such designs cut down the angle of light incursion and hence the distance that light penetrates into the edifice.

Internally, the roof has a bed of clouded glass ( ? Clouded glass or blinds? ) . This helps to administer the visible radiation equally, in add-on to forestalling blaze, which can be a major distraction in some on the job environments. By cut downing the strength of the light ‘hot spots’ are less likely to happen within the library. The enormousness of the cardinal infinite in footings of ceiling tallness and floor country along with the controlled natural visible radiation and impersonal internal ornament strategy provides a really comfy working country where there is no sense of enclosure or oppression.

The visible radiation from the roof and the environing glass facade besides permeates countries of the library environing the Centre. These countries provide extra infinite to read and analyze, every bit good as lodging the library’s aggregation of books. When compared to the cardinal reading infinite, these countries have low ceilings with no natural visible radiation from straight above. While natural light alone is non sufficient in these countries really small unreal lighting is required to make suited on the job conditions during the lightest hours of the twenty-four hours. However, early in the forenoon and tardily in the afternoon well higher degrees of unreal lighting are required. While this can be considered a defect from an energy ingestion position, it does supply users with a different experience and while some may prefer the copiousness of natural visible radiation in the sweep of the cardinal reading infinite, others may prefer the combination of natural and unreal visible radiation offered elsewhere within the edifice.

The Faculty of History edifice excels on a figure of degrees, yet basically fails from a ocular point of view. Its combination of ruddy brick and huge glassy frontages is unusual and therefore attending grabbing. The design contradicts itself in some instances, the most detrimental of which is the visually heavy and angular roof. Interestingly, the roof is really effectual when it comes to the proviso of natural lighting for the library and helps to make an appealing internal infinite. However, the fact that the cardinal and dominant external characteristic of the edifice fails in its external ocular entreaty dramatis personaes uncertainty over the overall success and design of the edifice.