Ridley Hall

Refurbishment and accessibility project

Since 2019, Archangel has been working with Ridley Hall, one of the Cambridge theological colleges, on a major refurbishment and accessibility project.

The College has long been concerned that all its students should be able to access both the curriculum and the communal life of Ridley on equal terms. However, its listed, Victorian buildings were designed with stepped access – sometimes as much as a full storey – to all of its spaces, whether teaching, administrative, social or residential. Perhaps the greatest difficulty was presented by the library, which is on the second floor, with no sensible option for providing lift access, nor adequate circulation space once up there.

Site progress at Ridley Hall in Cambridge
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The challenge has been to alter these fine buildings to enable them to address current needs, while preserving and enhancing their distinctive character.

The project aims to address this lack of accessibility in a holistic manner, and comprises three principal elements: 

  • the move of the library from the difficult-to-access second floor to a new space, created by lowering the floor of the basement of ‘A’ Staircase; this new space is accessed via external steps and a platform lift;
  • the conversion of ‘A’ Stair back into residential accommodation, including double rooms and small apartments for married students, who are currently not catered for on site; this involves bringing the under-used tower rooms back into full use with much improved means of escape;
  • access ramps to four of the main entrances, including to the dining hall, common room and the principal teaching spaces.

All of the Victorian buildings at Ridley are listed; the first to be built was the Principal’s Lodge and entrance range on Ridley Hall Road with its distinctive tower (all 1879–81 by Charles Luck), followed by the north block and chapel (1891–2 by William Wallace). The challenge has been to alter these fine buildings to enable them to address current needs, while preserving and enhancing their distinctive character.

The design has been developed in close collaboration with Anna Russell (Head of Facilities and Estates), and representatives of the academic staff student community and maintenance team. The success of the design phase benefited greatly from an excellent working relationship with City Council conservation officers including agreement on the significance and strategy through a thorough pre-application process.

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