Churchill College - Building the Future
50th Anniversary 2010
Churchill College was founded in 1960 by Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister who famously led Britain to victory in
the Second World War.
A modern college in an ancient university, Churchill has always aimed to innovate. It pioneered the admission of women into
men’s colleges. It is unique in that 70% of its undergraduates study science and technology. It has broadened access to
students of every background. And it has forged links with American universities through its Winston Churchill Scholars.
In just fifty years twenty-four members of the College have won Nobel Prizes. Their achievements are prodigious. The first
Master, Sir John Cockcroft, split the atom. A founding Fellow, Francis Crick, unravelled “the secret of life” in DNA. Churchill
Postgraduate, Roger Tsien, developed a revolutionary method of tracking molecules in cells.
Today Churchill College has more than 7000 graduates, many of whom have attained distinction in different fields. Half a century
after its foundation the College continues to realise Sir Winston’s vision, building bridges between the academic world, the
professions, industry and public life.
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill
“The 50th Anniversary of the College provides a historic opportunity to build on our achievements. We aim to do this literally,
by providing a New Court for sixty students whom we cannot now accommodate on campus and who would benefit greatly from the
full College experience. The cost of the New Court is £8 million. We also plan to raise a further £4 million to provide
both undergraduate and postgraduate studentships.
As Sir Winston said when launching the campaign to found the College: ‘I ask you to contribute with enthusiasm and not with
caution.’ The response was full-hearted, providing the foundations of success for the College’s first half century. The
need today is no less and I hope that you will respond with equal generosity to the present appeal. With your help the College
can go from strength to strength over the next fifty years … and beyond.”
Sir David Wallace
Churchill College wants to support its students by providing the best facilities possible. Key to this aim is a New Court
of student accommodation. The ethos of the new building will underpin the drive for academic excellence and will enable Churchill
College to continue to attract the finest students and bring them together in a nurturing, intellectual and egalitarian community.
Churchill College with its focus on science and technology has many students studying Engineering and Natural Sciences. Both
subjects have extended from three to four years and many mathematicians also stay on to take the optional Part III in Mathematics.
It is essential that Churchill is able to provide fourth-year accommodation to all its students who need it.
The same is true of postgraduate students, many of whom come from overseas. They are outstandingly able, often winners of
highly competitive studentships provided by bodies such as the Winston Churchill Foundation of the USA. If we are to maintain
our high standards of recruitment in an intensely competitive environment we urgently need to accommodate as many of them
as possible in College.
The new court will be more than just bricks and mortar.
“Accommodating all our undergraduate and advanced students is critical to Churchill’s success as an academic and social community
– and vital as we continue to attract the very brightest and most focused students to this College. I am delighted by our
plans to build a wonderful new court whose visionary design will provide comfortable, social space while minimising environmental
Richard Partington, Senior Tutor
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Virtually all students wish to live in College, where their welfare is best looked after and they can experience to the full
the life of the community. Indeed a recent survey found that accommodation is the crucial factor in determining postgraduates’
choice of college. Other colleges recognise its importance. Many have built new, high-quality accommodation and most are
now able to house all their undergraduates on site for the duration of their degrees.
The New Court at Churchill College will be more than just bricks and mortar. It will be a home for those away from home,
often for the first time. It will be a centre where students share life and learning, and where enduring friendships are made.
It will be a melting-pot where different ages, cultures and disciplines come together – a priceless social and intellectual
benefit only conferred by living in College. And it will be a classroom where students and tutors meet to discuss their subjects
on a one-to-one basis, in the best Cambridge tradition.
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“Churchill has a unique sense of community; that’s what attracted me to apply here. Providing accommodation for the duration
of the course brings everyone together. That’s why the New Court is so important; it will be a community for Churchill students
for the next fifty years and into the future.”
Colleges and courts are the nucleus of an academic community, helping it to develop paradigm-shifting ideas and epoch-making
techniques. Cambridge itself, a university based on colleges and courts, has seen the discovery of the laws of gravity, the
electron, isotopes, the first structure of a protein, DNA (plus methods to sequence it) and monoclonal antibodies (leading
to colour tests in clinical diagnosis). In its short life-time Churchill College has made an exceptional contribution to
the University’s catalogue of accomplishment. Among Fellows of the College, to give three more examples, Professor Bob Edwards
discovered in vitro fertilisation, Professor Sir John Gurdon first cloned an animal, and Professor Tony Hewish identified
We hope you will agree that our collegiate system as one worthy of nurture and that you will support its extension in the
shape of the New Court.
Nikolaus Pevsner described the architecture of Churchill College, designed by Richard Sheppard, as “the best of the new”.
We plan to maintain this high standard in the design of our New Court. Our aim is to create a building which, though different
from, has a strong empathy with the existing Sheppard-designed courts.
The new accommodation, comprising of sixty student rooms and a Fellow’s set, will be situated west of South Court adjacent
to Madingley Road. A design consultation has already taken place and the preferred architects have submitted initial plans.
It is hoped that construction work will commence by the end of 2011.
The design of the new building reflects the College’s environmental strategy, which is to emulate the PassivHaus model.
Our aim is to minimise the carbon footprint and energy use of the building throughout its life. High insulation will be afforded
by solid timber panels and birch cladding. Solar thermal collectors on the roof, supplemented by a heat-reclaim system from
waste, will provide hot water for the entire building. Recycling this and saving rainfall will reduce the overall consumption
of water. “Free” energy will come from ground source heat, acquired via piles supporting the building.
The building will also be fully accessible to disabled visitors and residents and it will include three rooms specifically
designed for disabled students.