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Cripps Building at St John's College

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2093 / 52°12'33"N

Longitude: 0.1154 / 0°6'55"E

OS Eastings: 544636

OS Northings: 258891

OS Grid: TL446588

Mapcode National: GBR L79.D0F

Mapcode Global: VHHK2.YQCR

Plus Code: 9F426458+P5

Entry Name: Cripps Building at St John's College

Listing Date: 31 March 2009

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393223

English Heritage Legacy ID: 503622

Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2

County: Cambridgeshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle

Built-Up Area: Cambridge

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Cambridge The Ascension

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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Listing Text


667/0/10164 Cripps Building at St John's College

The Cripps building, St Johns College, Cambridge.

Designed 1962-3, constructed 1964-7.

By A.J. Phillip Powell (later Sir) and John Hidalgo ('Jacko') Moya, structural engineers Charles Weiss and Partners,

The building has L-shaped concrete columns clad in Whitbed Portland stone and containing duct work, with walling of Roach-bed Portland stone and Whitbed quoins, exposed in situ concrete floor slabs and mullions of white concrete with bronze window frames and lead aprons. The end walls are faced with lead panels. The flat, felted and pebbled roof has concrete benches at the eaves and deep eaves to the penthouse apartments with projecting, chimney-like stair turrets and plant rooms.

The plan is an assymetrical zig-zag in six sections, of four storeys with penthouses served by 8 staircases supported above the ground floor partly open as a cloister.

The elevations strongly reflect the plan with a recurring pattern of long narrow set, double set and study bedrooms mirrored around each staircase. This produces a rhythm of narrow and broad bays with mullions set off-centre for all but the long narrow sets which have square windows, emphasized by the broad double sets which project forward. The glazing is in a long horizontal pattern with broad swivel-opening panes set between two transoms, their grid complementing the building's expressed frame. The stairs have set-back vertical windows. The covered ways make impressive use of contrasting stone walls, concrete staircases and stone and brick pavoirs and steps which link the building with the surrounding grounds. The glazed Porter's Lodge is located on the north elevation.

Most of the 8 staircases, complete with their original balustrades, serve six two-room sets and two study-bedrooms on each of the three upper floors in addition to twelve penthouse studios. Kitchens with their original cupboards and cooking facilities, shower and toilet facilities for each landing are clustered back-to-back at the rear of the stairs. The interior retains most fixtures and fittings including all stair detailing, doors and door furniture and window fittings. Each landing has Mehuhu hardwood block floors and the bedrooms have fitted bookcases, some with wash-basin screens and hessian-faced internal partitions.

In 1959, C H Cripps offered St John's College £75,000 towards the cost of new college buildings. Cripps had graduated from the college in 1959 and gone on to success in his father's firm manufacturing motor components, setting up the Cripps foundation with his father, Sir Cyril Cripps, as its chairman. Powell and Moya were appointed architects, following a limited competition, with C H Cripps being closely involved in the building work and supplied, for example, the bronze windows, door hinges and other metalwork from his firm. A bust of Sir Cyril Cripps was unveiled in 1973 and is located in the Porter's Lodge. The finished building cost a total of just over £1 million, received a RIBA award in 1967 and a Civic Trust award in 1968.

Architectural review, October 1963 pp276-7
Architect and Building News, 13 September 1967, pp772-3
Architectural Review, September 1967. pp 181-8
Architect and Building News, 10 January 1968, pp 71-2
Architects Journal, 4 October 1967 pp863-74
Alec C Crook, Penrose to Cripps, A Century of Building in the College of St John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Cambridge 1978 pp.180-204

The Cripps building is listed at grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a building of outstanding design combining an elegant exterior, distinctive plan-form and generous, permeable interior space.
* It has good quality exterior materials and well-crafted interior fittings.
* It is designed by Powell and Moya, distinguished post-war architects with many listed buildings to their name.
* Notwithstanding the loss of the small single storey element subsumed into the Fisher building, it remains virtually intact.
* It remains an exemplar of good-quality design for university accommodation.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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