The Corde team was recently shortlisted for a new porters’ lodge at Homerton College, Cambridge. Our design reached the final six entries in a design competition run by the College, sitting alongside entries by Alison Brooks (the eventual winners), Charles Holland Architects, Page\Park, Purcell and Chadwick Dryer Clarke.
Our proposed design has a focus on connectivity, centred on a new courtyard helping to create a sense of belonging, and to connect the College with the public street. To inform the design, we studied themes and variations in other Cambridge gatehouses and entranceways over the centuries, and echoed traditional design elements in our own contemporary approach. For instance, many medieval colleges’ gatehouses feature a muniment room on the first floor – an archival space where manuscripts and records were kept. We reinterpreted this principle for the lodge’s exhibition room, with an open glass frontage making it visible from the street.
Our engineers and architects worked hard to produce a design focused around key principles of orientation, shading, and the appropriate balance of glazing. This ensured a deliverable net–zero carbon building in use – not simply design – that would support people and the environment. We took a fabric-first approach, proposing a range of low-carbon materials such as locally grown hemp, timber and – for the insulation in the new library – recycled books, reflecting the building’s purpose in our use of materials.
Homerton College described it as a “bright, open Porters’ Lodge”, with an “airy reading room connected directly to the first floor of the existing library”.