Cambridge University History Faculty

The design and construction of Sir James Stirling’s iconic History Faculty in Cambridge will be well known and researched by architects. Architects will be familiar with the bold and ground-breaking design which pushed the boundaries of construction to create this unusual and fascinating building. The design was created in 1963 as a subject of a limited competition.

After this competition, it was discovered that a part of the original site destined for use was unavailable to the University and the building had to be turned through 90 degrees to fit the land available. This meant that the main area of glazing was now facing due south-east and in a position to absorb high levels of solar gain. In addition to this, the building was originally constructed with single skin glazing which resulted in appreciable heat loss during winter months – this has now been supplemented with secondary glazing.

Accommodating the day-to-day function of the extremely active Department of History for Cambridge University, this building has to provide comfortable accommodation for the many staff, visiting students and readers as well as housing over 12000 square feet of shelving for the huge literature resource. Over the years, Cambridge University has invested money in this Grade II listed faculty to maintain the structure and constantly improve its performance according to the technology available and to upgrade the environmental performance for heating and cooling as much as possible.

As part of this, InterLace were involved to design, trial and install replacement internal solar shading. The outline design brief was simple – to restore complete and functioning shading to all glazing, whilst matching the original installation to satisfy the listing status. As an interesting additional factor, the original patent glazing system to which the blinds were fixed has become extremely fragile in places over the years.

InterLace was tasked to devise a fixing method which clamped the blind brackets to the glazing bars without actual penetration of the aluminium which could weaken the structure. This involved the complete design of a bespoke bracket which has proved to be a great success for the vertical and horizontal glazing.

This replacement of blinds generally, back to the original design concept has greatly improved the building for the occupants. The 6th floor corridor is now completely shielded from direct sunlight, and the room users now enjoy full functionality of the blinds within offices to control glare and heat. In addition, the University has never enjoyed so much control over the blinds which now enables
them to retain them semi-permanently in the deployed position and prevent the maximum solar gain from entering the building.

InterLace were pleased to be involved on such an important scheme which enabled us to demonstrate our design and solution capability to a high degree and with such a successful result.

"The design and construction of Sir James Stirling’s iconic History Faculty in Cambridge will be well known and researched by architects."

Sir James Stirling’s History Faculty, University of Cambridge ,

  • Cambridge University History Faculty
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