Robinson College

Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, Cambridge, 1980


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College entrance is complete with drawbridge and portcullis 

Martin Charles     Download Original

  • College entrance is complete with drawbridge and portcullis    
  • The strong urban strip of the college building encloses idyllic English landscape garden on the site    
  • On the garden side the rhythm is dictated by the individual rooms which form the bulk of the accommodation    
  • Long Court - the intensley urban street-like interior of the college    
  • External view    
  • College presents a high, rugged, and predonimantly solid face to the garden    
  • High Court with a lightwell to plant and services area below    
  • High Court with music room at the end    
  • Detail of brick work in lower court    
  • Framed view of Front Court    
  • Oriel facing Herschel Road    
  • New bridge over Bin Brook    
  • Internal     
  • Public footway leading into building    
  • Main entrance into the corner of Front Court    
  • A second entrance - a public pathway which follows Bin Brook through the building    
  • Hall library windows    
  • Formal door to chapel off First Court    
  • Piper window in chapel    
  • Chapel furnishings were specially designed by the architects    
  • The chapel looking from the entrance    
  • Formal hall    
  • Library, light is tempered by timber fins    
  • LIbrary, where two upper floors are like trays proposed within the triple-height space    
  • A typical study bedroom    
  • Location plan showing Cambridge Colleges    
  • Site plan    
  • Basement and ground floor plans    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Third and fourth floor plans    
  • Section through cafeteria with student accommodation above    
  • Section through chapel and common rooms    
  • Typical construction detail through student accommodation    
  • Window detail    

New student college for the University of Cambridge, consisting of student accommodation, chapel and teaching facilities

The masterplan was originally meant to house 600 students, but site restrictions meant that first-stage designs accommodated 350 students.

Although the original proposal was a ribbon of building to extend around three sides of the site, the present college constitutes about two-thirds of that plan. Compared to the other competition entries the design was more densely arranged and concentrated on an U-shaped wing built up to six storeys on its interior and stepping down to three storeys around the perimeter facing the road.

The study bedrooms themselves are grouped around open staircases and a stepped section provides external gallery access and alternative escape routes, thereby dispensing with the need for internal corridors.

The complex is largely built from plum-coloured handmade Dorset stocks and decorated with a rich variety of brick details-V-shaped brick piers (containing copper down-pipes) corbelled door surrounds and so on. Beneath this non-load bearing brick skin, the building is mainly of concrete frame construction. The college chapel contains stained glass windows by John Piper.


  • Begun: Apr 1977
  • Completed: Oct 1980
  • Floor area: 20,257m2
  • Sectors: Education, Residential
  • Total cost: £7.6M
  • Funding: David Robinson
  • Tender date: Mar 1977
  • Procurement: 1963 JCT Private Edition with quantities, fluctuations not included
  • Address: Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9AN, United Kingdom