Central spaces project

Last updated: 14 September 2021.

In July 2020, after months of careful consultation and discussion, St Catharine’s College announced that it had received planning permission and listed building consent from Cambridge City Council to proceed with essential building works to renovate, modernise and integrate facilities at the heart of the College, based on designs by architects Gort Scott.

Lifelong learning takes place and transformative, enduring connections are made in the spaces at the heart of our Island site on Trumpington Street. As part of our strategy document – 'Our College, Our Future' – the College identified a pressing need to renovate, modernise and integrate these facilities, in order to enhance the experience of our students, alumni, staff, Fellows and visitors, from prospective students to visiting academics.

The central spaces project will provide – for the first time – direct access between existing buildings (see above). With links to the McGrath Centre, the bar and the JCR, a new ‘Garden Room’ will offer a bright and beautiful new area that connects to a new atrium located in the area at the side of the current Hall. This atrium will offer a direct route from Chapel Court to the servery and from there into the Hall, as well as a staircase and lift to go down to the basement gym and music rooms, and up to the OCR, the Sherlock Library and student accommodation. Step-free access will open up all of the ground floor, including our Chapel, with lift access to the other floors.

Careful consideration has been given to protecting and showcasing our heritage. We hope the new atrium will reveal centuries-old brickwork from the old Hall, while a staircase and landing will run alongside the old bricks on the exterior of the Sherlock Library to provide a more fitting entrance to this attractive and historically important room (see below). Our rare books collection will be housed in a purpose-built store, complete with a new reading room for students, fellows and visiting scholars. In addition, the atrium will present an opportunity to display a selection of these hitherto-hidden rare books.

This transformative project is entirely funded through fundraising and will provide a centrepiece that inspires and attracts the brightest minds for many years to come, building spaces that the St Catharine’s community can all truly be proud of.

Pictured: (Left) An artist’s impression of the view from the new second floor landing at the entrance to the Sherlock Library, with the new atrium in the foreground and Chapel Court outside in the distance; (Right) An artist’s impression of the new Hall at nighttime, with the lantern above and a gallery at the far end.



Please refer to the latest status update for further detail about upcoming works and what these involve.