Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Alison Richard donned hard-hat and high-visibility jacket on Tuesday to operate a drilling rig at a University ‘start of construction’ ceremony.
She visited the building site at 7 West Road which is to become the new home for CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) and other University centres.
Besides operating a drilling rig - which began drilling the first of twelve boreholes for the ground source heat pump - the Vice-Chancellor also spoke of her pride at the sustainable ethos behind the development, including design plans for ’super insulation’ to minimise heat loss.
As well as CRASSH, the building, once completed, will also be home to the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), Centre of Development Studies (DEV), Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS), Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU), Centre of South Asian Studies (CSAS) and the Centre of African Studies (CAS).
The purpose of the new building is to enhance the opportunities for academic synergy and to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. The design aims to preserve the identity of each group whilst also creating areas where researchers can come together.
On top of the dedicated research areas, there will be a cafe, a suite of shared seminar rooms and open plan post-graduate areas.
The atrium will act as an important reception area for national and international visitors as well as a hub for conferences and exhibitions. The ground floor, including the cafe, will be open to all Sidgwick site, University and College users.
The new building will be highly sustainable and is the first permitted by Cambridge City Council to substitute passive measures for a proportion of the ten per cent renewable energy requirement.
Passive measures reduce energy consumption for heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting. Heat losses through the fabric will be limited by optimising the insulation - the building will be ’super insulated’ and solar gains minimised through the use of solar control glazing and strategic external solar shading.
As well as the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Willy Brown, Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, spoke about the proud heritage of the site (the former Victorian villa was once the home of Nobel Prize winner Sir Joseph John Thompson) and of his hopes for the future of collaborative research between the various organisations gathered under one roof at 7 West Road.