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Warmer and quieter offices for the Master and Staff

6 Mar 2020
Case study

74 Trumpington Street, including the new offices of the Master (Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury) of Pembroke College, has been upgraded with curved on plan and standard secondary glazing to create quieter and warmer office environments, in line with the College’s overall sustainability plan.


The third oldest constituent college of the University of Cambridge and one of the larger; Pembroke College has buildings from almost every century since the fourteenth across its estate, which house over 700 students and Fellows, who are all termed ‘Valencians’. In an effort to keep attracting the best scholarly minds and providing the best environments to nurture their excellence, a vision for enhanced learning spaces on the South Side of Mill Lane has been created.


Situated on the corner of Trumpington Street and Mill Lane, in the quintessentially English university city of Cambridge, three neighbouring buildings forming part of Pembroke College’s estate have recently been renovated, which was no easy task. One of which is the Grade II Listed Kenmare House designed and built by James Essex c.1760, a prolific constructor in Cambridge, with many of his buildings now making up the University’s Estate.


Pleasance Hookham and Nix were contracted by the College to put the architectural plans together of how the buildings would be reconfigured, to house the Master, Finance, Human Resources and International Programmes Teams and Fellows accommodation, who were being moved across the road from the main building. The rooms on the front elevation, including a space to become a meeting room with beautiful Venetian windows, overlooked an extremely busy thoroughfare with tour buses and cars passing in front as well as the continual stream of bicycles found throughout the city. Due to its Listing, the original single pane windows had to be retained, so a solution to combat the noise ingress and thermal inefficiencies had to be sought. Selectaglaze was contacted early in the design process, which made the incorporation of the secondary glazing far more efficient. Many site visits were held to discuss the window opening preparatory work Coulson Building Group would need to undertake and the best frame styles to suit.


One window in particular posed a bigger challenge. The main view out of the corner of the building on Mill Lane, was an ornate large curved on plan sliding sash. Fortuitously, Selectaglaze has just finished developing a new Series 25 vertical sliding curved on plan unit; previously it was only available as a casement. This new product proved to be the best solution, as it matched the sightlines of the original perfectly and glides effortlessly within the frame.


Over 60 units were installed throughout the buildings. On the front elevation, where noise ingress was a larger concern, the secondary glazing was installed with a larger cavity, to create the sound insulation. On the rear of the building the glazing was mainly for thermal and one intricately etched large window overlooking a flat roof, had a large Secured by Design unit installed for added security.


A range of styles were included in the design including, Series 10 - 2 and 3 pane horizontal sliders, Series 20 vertical sliders and Series 45 side hung casements (plus more). Some windows had arched heads, so special timber grounds were produced in the workshop, with a great deal of scribing and care taken during installation on site. The most demanding in terms of time and precision was making the curved unit fit, with its specially designed timber sub frame.


What could have been a very complicated job was made easier with collaborative working from the outset with the architects and Robert Griggs, Pembroke College Facilities Manager.


The introduction of secondary double glazing was the only practical way to improve sound and thermal comfort within the restrictions of such a prominently positioned historic building.

Pre and post installation working conditions within the building were transformed by the Selectaglaze units with heavy vehicles simply unheard as they pass. The installation (apart from the curved unit) progressed in accordance with programme and importantly the site was left tidy for following trades.” comments Robert Griggs.


The staff based there are delighted with their new home. A noticeable difference can already be felt with the installation of the secondary glazing; they can work peacefully whilst the tourists pass by on their guided tours and are cosy with draughts and heat loss eliminated.

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