St John’s College building project wins prestigious engineering and sustainability awards

Mon, Mar 25, 2024

The College’s Buttery, Bar and Café building project has won a prestigious engineering and sustainability prize in the Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards, beating nominees across all categories.

The new social spaces, which opened in January 2023 after an 18-month construction programme, were announced as the winner of the David MacKay Award for Engineering and Sustainability at the Greater Cambridge Share Planning service and Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry awards at Pembroke College on Monday 4 March.

The St John’s facilities were also highly commended in the Best Conservation, Alteration, or Extension of an Existing Building (over £2m construction cost) category, while the project’s building contractor Barnes Construction won the Contractor Award for its ‘exemplary standard’ of work.

The annual awards celebrate the best construction projects completed in Greater Cambridge, including new buildings and conservation, alterations or extensions to existing buildings.

Heather Hancock, Master of St John’s College, said: “This award is fantastic external endorsement of the brilliant redevelopment of the Buttery, Bar and Café, where we put innovative sustainability and energy efficiency front and centre of the architectural solution and the operational requirements.”

The MacKay award is named after the late physicist Sir David MacKay, former Cambridge Regius Professor of Engineering and author of the critically-acclaimed book, Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air. Sir David was one-time Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and died aged 48 in 2016.

Heather Hancock added: “Sir David MacKay was a pioneering influence when it comes to the climate and energy challenges we understand so well today. It’s a great honour to receive this award in his name, for our lead contractors Barnes to win the annual construction award for creating such an exceptional result in a Grade I-listed building in the heart of the College, and then a third nod to the overall conservation achievement, which has added so significantly to life at John’s.”

The Greater Cambridge Share Planning Services and Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry have held the awards since 1988. Judges visited the shortlisted projects in February to examine the buildings and experience the spaces first-hand. Their judging criteria included the context and brief for the building, the design solution, the quality and difficulty of the construction, and the craftsmanship. Accessibility and the creation of an inclusive environment were also vital.

Each scheme shortlisted must address environmental concerns, including energy performance. The projects are also expected to contribute to the natural environment both on the building and in the surrounding landscape.

Jessica Tearney-Pearce, Capital Projects Coordinator, explained that the ‘brilliant aesthetic qualities’ of the new dining and social spaces are obvious but some of the most impressive aspects of the project is the work that can’t be seen.

This includes the thermal upgrades to the 16th and 17th-century Grade I-listed fabric and windows, significant enhancement of acoustic performance, environmental monitoring to establish the right humidity levels, use of the historic chimneys for ventilation, and an engineering solution for the ground floor slab that enables a low temperature air source heat pump to power and warm the spaces with a much lower carbon footprint than the previous buildings.


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Published on: 08.03.24

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