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A feasibility study has been commissioned to assess how best to upgrade the University Centre and guarantee its future. The first stage is to look at the potential uses for a refurbished building. Find out more about the building, its context and the future uses that are being considered and give your view on the initial ideas – we encourage you to share your thoughts.

How can I find out more and share my views? 

  • Members of the University community and others who would like to share their views are invited to complete this short survey which closes on Friday 1 March
  • There will be opportunities to view the options and speak with representatives of the appointed design team and the Estates Division. Drop-in events will be held on:
    • Thursday 15 February10am-4pm at the West Hub, in the breakout space on the first floor, opposite the central staircase
    • Tuesday 27 February 10am-4pm at the University Centre, in the main hall on level 2
    • Wednesday 21 February 1-2pm, Teams webinar. Please register for the online consultation event  
  • For more information about the building and the project please download the exhibition boards 
     
  • If you have any questions please come along and speak to us at one of the consultation events

Possible uses for the building 

We have appointed a multi-disciplinary team to look at the upgrades that are needed to the building’s systems and services and how it might be reconfigured to provide a range of different uses. 

The four options below show how some of these uses could be combined within the existing structure. Other combinations of uses are possible and the feedback from this consultation will help the team find the optimum solution. 

 

Multipurpose Hub

A dynamic communal place for working, learning, dining and connecting with friends, colleagues and industry partners.

For: students and alumni; academic and university staff; collaborators from industry; general public
Including: teaching and learning spaces; social space; meeting and dining.
 

This is similar to the West Hub

 

Teaching Hub 

A dedicated centre for teaching, seminars, lectures, exams and study that addresses the shortfall of centrally located, high quality teaching spaces. 

For: students; teaching staff
Including: lecture theatre; exam facilities; space for study and touchdown; café.
 

This is similar to the Sidgwick Avenue Lecture Block

 

Mixed workplace

A workplace shared between university staff and entrepreneurs to promote local innovation and generate income for the University. 

 

For: university staff; entrepreneurs; commercial occupiers
Including: university offices; commercial offices, restaurant and bar; incubator space.
 

This is similar to the Hauser Forum at Cambridge West

Commercial use

A facility for one or more commercial tenants which would generate income for the University with reduced capital outlay and maintenance. 

For: independent commercial operator (office, laboratory, education, arts, hotel)
Including: commercial space on a short or long lease.

What is the University Centre?

The University Centre was built to provide recreational and meeting space as well as catering facilities for those within the University community who did not have access to College amenities. Built in 1967 the University Centre is one of finest examples of brutalist architecture in Cambridge. It was built in response to the finding of the Bridges Report, which lamented the lack of facilities for graduate students. The Centre was generously funded by the Wolfson Foundation.  

Why are changes needed?

Since its completion almost 60 years ago there has been no significant refurbishment of the University Centre. Extensive refurbishment and upgrades are needed to give the building another 60 years of life. Upgrades will also help us meet our decarbonisation commitments.
 
Since the Covid pandemic the University Centre has no longer been used as a social and dining hub, with the central kitchen moving to the West Hub. The building is under-used and we want to establish how best to guarantee its long-term future.The feasibility exercise is being carried out in accordance with the principles of the Reshaping Our Estate programme.

What are the opportunities and challenges? 

The University Centre is Grade II listed so much of it is protected. We therefore need to work with the existing structure to find proposals that enhance the building and can be delivered effectively using what we have.

Its riverside location in the heart of the city with spectacular views across Cambridge from the upper floors and roof, makes the University Centre a valuable asset within the University Estate.  

Next steps

This is an early-stage consultation exercise to gauge views from within the University about the future of the University Centre. Findings from this exercise will be used to inform the next stage of the project.

 

 

 

The Ordinance for the University Centre (Statutes and Ordinances Chapter X, p676) sets out the entitlement of members of the Regent House, University officers and Fellows of Colleges, and postgraduate registered students to be members of the University Centre and to be consulted on proposed permanent changes to the building and its use. 

Share your views

Attend the consultation events:

  • Thursday 15 February, West Hub, 10am-4pm
  • Wednesday 21 February, online Teams webinar, 1-2pm 
  • Tuesday 27 February, University Centre, 10am-4pm

 

Consultation boards

For more information about the building and the project please download the exhibition boards or click on the images below to view each board.