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View: Grid List
University of Cambridge
Colin Rice
Edmond Shipway, WhitbyBird, JR Knowles, Bickerdike Allen Partners, Livingston Eyre, Bluestone
Concrete Society Award for Outstanding Structure (2001) RIBA Award (2001) Nominated for RIBA Sustainability Award (2001)

Designed as a series of south facing terraces, culminating in a four-storey rotunda, the Faculty of Divinity neatly completes one corner of the University of Cambridge's Sidgwick Site.

Faculty of Divinity

The building combines a mixture of individual offices for Lecturers and Professors, common rooms, lecture and seminar rooms.

The rotunda contains the public rooms of the Faculty. It is crowned by a wonderfully light and airy double-height circular library occupying the top floor and mezzanine. It provides plenty of well-lit reading spaces, including many around the perimeter with views over the Sidgwick campus.

Out of the rotunda a segment is cut to create a new square with the entrances to the existing History Faculty and the new building in its two southern corners.

The building expresses and encourages the Faculty's sense of collegiality and community between teaching staff, students and researchers, with contrasting and balanced spaces.

The Divinity building was opened by HM The Queen in November 2000.


The site of the Faculty of Divinity is on the western edge of the Sidgwick Site. Its immediate neighbours are James Stirling's History Faculty building and the Music School by Leslie Martin; nearby are Casson Conder's Raised Faculty building and Norman Foster's Law Faculty.

The form of the building takes cues from its surroundings.

The Divinity building extends the framing of the History Faculty building already implied by the Raised Faculty building and the Law Faculty. It does this by complementary but contrasting mass - hence the rotunda set against the square towers of the History building - and contrasting line and colour.

The rotunda form was also inspired by the constraint, set by the Council Tree Officer, of a 13m radius 'exclusion zone' around the Wellingtonia tree on the corner of the site.

In response and in contrast to the verticality of the History Faculty the building is made up of a series of alternating horizontal bands of cladding and windows, separated by sun-shading louvres. The module of the louvres follows the module of the patent glazing of the History Faculty.

The mature gardens of Selwyn College form two sides of the Faculty of Divinity's boundary. A new garden is created for the Faculty, and the roof terraces are planted, so that from Selwyn College the sense of gardens continue.

Concept illustration by Ted Cullinan


Horizontal cladding, in contrast to the crackling verticals of the History Faculty, includes bespoke louvres that shed water and shade the interior as part of its low energy design.

The exposed concrete construction of this building helps to provide heat absorption during the day. At night the interior can be cooled by opening the clerestory glazing, which is automatically controlled by the building management system.

Illustration by Ted Cullinan of the shading and shedding cladding