Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge, English Higher Education Architecture Photos

Civil Engineering Building at University of Cambridge

29 May 2022

Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, southeast England, United Kingdom

Design: Grimshaw with RHP

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge

Photos by Paul Raftery

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge Design

Jury Report

The Civil Engineering Building is the first part of a move of the University’s engineering faculty from its current central location on Fen Causeway to the University’s West Cambridge site, where it incorporates the National Research Facility for Infrastructure. The building design is by Grimshaw.

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge

At the heart of this new facility is the testing laboratory, featuring an extraordinary metre-thick concrete testing slab, isolated on dampers. Beneath this is what can only be described as a testing cave, from where it is possible to monitor testing of experiments in process.

Adjacent to the main testing hall are ancillary laboratories, including a lab focussed on reducing the carbon content of concrete. Wrapped around these highly particular spaces are a series of research and collaboration spaces, culminating in a shared canteen and roof garden on the top floor. The client was very happy with the outcome and noted that the quality of shared spaces gave them much more variety of spaces and potential for collaboration and interaction than they have had previously.

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge

The team have developed a framing system that is highly economic and legible – maintaining a regular repeated framing arrangement and introducing expressed diagonals to form storey deep trusses rather than carbon intensive transfer structures where longer clear spans are required.

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge

The measured energy performance of this educational building betters predicted performance, which must be viewed in relation to the high unregulated loads expected with this sort of specialised facility. The project is most notable however for the implementation of sustainable engineering principles and the innovation presented. The engineers have addressed the onerous superstructure and substructure carbon demands of the brief with extensive research to ensure the delivery of circular design principles, and in doing so has also developed a commendable Energy Cost Metric to evaluate the whole-life benefits of such strategies. Overall, it represents an exemplar project in sustainable engineering that presents a benchmark for future projects to follow.

Being the first of a series, it is hoped that the design can be refined even further in subsequent incarnations – using the high density of building monitoring in operation to optimise the design and embodied carbon.

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge – Property Information

Title: Civil Engineering Building
RIBA region: East
Architect practice: Grimshaw – Grimshaw
Additional Architect practice: RHP – RHP
Date of completion: May 2019
Date of occupation: October 2019
Client company name: University of Cambridge
Project city/town: Cambridge

Contract value: Confidential
Gross internal area: 4,570.00 m²
Net internal area: 3,050.00 m²
Cost per m²: Confidential
Contractor company name: SDC


Services Engineering + Sustainability consultant: Max Fordham
Civil & Structural engineering: Smith & Wallwork
Façade engineering: Montressor Partners
Landscape Architects: Turkington Martin
Fire engineering: Hoare Lea
Civils, Structural and fire engineering: Ramboll UK
Services engineering: KJ Tait Engineers


• RIBA Regional Award

Photographs: Paul Raftery


University building designs

Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge images / information received from the Royal Institute of British Architects

Location: University of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, south east England, UK

Cambridge Architecture

Cambridge Architecture Design – chronological list

Cambridge Architecture Walking Tours : tailored city walks by e-architect

Cambridge Building News

Cambridgeshire Building Designs – selection below:

Education Campus in Alconbury Weald, Cambridgeshire
Architect: Atkins
Alconbury Weald Education Campus, Cambridgeshire
image courtesy of architects
Education Campus in Alconbury Weald

Magdalene College Library, University of Cambridge
Design: Niall McLaughlin Architects
Magdalene College University of Cambridge Building Design
photo : Nick Kane
Magdalene College Library University of Cambridge

Emmanuel College
Architect: Stanton Williams
Emmanuel College Building Cambridge
image courtesy of architects
Emmanuel College Building in Cambridge

Cambridge Central Mosque
Design: Marks Barfield Architects
Cambridge Mosque Romsey Building
photo : Morley von Sternberg
Cambridge Central Mosque

Cambridge Architects – Alphabetical list of all featured designers

Comments / photos for the Civil Engineering Building University of Cambridge design by Grimshaw Architects and RHP page welcome