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Estates Division

West Hub

Reshaping our Estate aims to create a University of Cambridge estate that is more efficient, more effective, more environmentally sustainable and fit-for-purpose. One that celebrates the past and looks to the future, providing an inspirational environment in which to conduct learning and research that can change the world. 

We need to develop a new approach to managing our estate that supports the changing needs of a world-class University and allows us to create high quality and environmentally sustainable spaces for our staff and students.

Reshaping our Estate will facilitate a smaller, but improved, estate which would operate with greater efficiency in order to and better support the University’s academic mission, reduce long term annual costs and support the drive for zero carbon emissions.

The Introduction to Reshaping our Estate brochure provides an overview of the programme.

Reshaping our Estate approach

The Reshaping our Estate team are working closely with Schools and Non-School Institutions (NSIs) to establish the facts and present opportunities to develop spaces that support our academic mission as well as being financially, operationally and environmentally sustainable. 

In consultation with academics, staff, and students, the team will develop a strategic framework for the estate, which will outline a 20-year financial capital plan and structure by which all future estates projects should be considered.. The aim is to deliver a strategic outline business case in summer 2024.

Reshaping our Estate objectives

Based on the principles, we will work with the academic community to:

1. Establish the facts and present the opportunities, that will,

2. over time, create a place which will substantially improve the staff/student experience and

3. deliver a fit for purpose estate that is environmentally sustainable and delivers value for money

Using data and evidence, we will develop options alongside each of the Schools and NSIs to present. The Reshaping our Estate programme will follow the usual governance route for estates matters. Options will be presented to the Reshaping our Estate Programme Board, followed by the Estates Committee and then to the General Board and University Council, and will include a Grace for all matters under Regent House authority. This will be a highly collaborative process that must, and will, challenge the way we think about space.

"We have an opportunity to transform our ageing estate, but that will require all of us to think differently about the space we use.  I was delighted to see the West Hub being used almost to capacity on a recent visit. Clearly students and staff welcome the vibrant collaborative atmosphere.

 "Our joint challenge and joint endeavor is to ensure our whole estate provides a place in which all of us can feel proud and a place that supports making the breakthrough ideas of the future.  This will require openness and transparency to deliver a future University estate." - Graham Matthews, Director of Estates

Reshaping our Estate Principles

The six Reshaping our Estate principles serve as an underpinning design guide for the University estate. The estate covers not just buildings, it relates to the whole University environment and how it interacts with the wider City of Cambridge. Reducing the size of the estate will support both the reduction in carbon emissions and our wider impact on the planet. It will also free up money to be focused on research and teaching rather than on running poor quality buildings.    

1. Create high quality spaces that support staff and students to do their best work

Our estate should create a positive and productive working and learning environment for our staff and students and support excellence in teaching and research, and our public-facing activities.

2. Develop a smaller estate with more shared spaces

We should reduce the size of our estate and encourage space sharing to make better use of our existing spaces, avoid unnecessary costs and reduce our carbon footprint. We should consider opportunities to monetise parts of our estate which are not needed for teaching, research, public-facing or professional services space.   

3.  Consider how to make the most of existing spaces before building new ones

Wherever possible, we should meet our space needs using existing buildings rather than building new ones where financially and environmentally sound. This will help us to manage our estate in a more affordable way, while minimising the environmental costs of construction. We should make sure that new buildings meet recognised sustainable building standards, and that any development of our estate delivers a net gain in biodiversity.

4. Support teams across the University to adopt new ways of working

Our physical estate should enable the University to adopt flexible working practices and allow staff to work in spaces that support their style and meet their needs.   

5. Develop a financially and environmentally sustainable estate

We should be seeking all opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in our estate as part of the University’s aspirations for a zero-carbon future. We should look for opportunities to mitigate the environmental costs of managing our estate, for example by introducing more environmentally sustainable practices with regards to energy use or waste management. The operation of our estate must be financially sustainable, and there must be full transparency on how much it costs to manage our estate.  

6. Protect and promote our built and cultural heritage

Our estates strategy should protect our architectural and cultural heritage and develop high quality public spaces for staff, students, residents and visitors to enjoy.




Find out more and get involved

Introduction to Reshaping our Estate

Reshaping our Estate film