Architectural wonders of Cambridge
An incomplete list of hideous buildings of Cambridge
A first year NatSci has many privileges. In addition to having a large cohort of students and a wide academic connection with four supervisors and various DoS’s, it is lovely to cycle between departments (out of breath) while enjoying a diverse collection of architectures with intellectual history carved on their walls.
However, a few monstrosities stand out and keep reminding us that Cambridge is about people, not places. Below is an incomplete list open to future amendments:
The Seeley Historical Library
Although most of my first year historian friends spend their free time getting drunk, they sometimes are people to be respected. However, less so for the History Department building.
First established in 1807, the legendary Seeley’s primary role is to support the History Faculty’s teaching programme by providing students with the resources they require for their studies. Indeed, not only does the building’s design induce a thirst for knowledge (clearly shared by all History students by their lecture attendance), its structure predates the brutalist movement of modernity. Practically, it offers an ideal environment to academics and students alike. According to John McAslanhe, the architect in charge of the library’s renovation in 2004, “the building … leaks, it’s too bright, too hot in summer and too cold in winter.”
Inspired by Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment, the red brick college erected behind the University Library possesses the essential features of a New Jersey State Prison. It does, however, serve its purpose as a strong fortress with a robust demographic control, as barely anyone outside of Robinson would want to come in (not even with its free, subpar bops).
While the women’s college has the most amazing people, its architecture remains its fatal flaw. The iconic dome might be appreciated by Medwards students at large (a detailed description can be found here), it occurs to others that they hijacked the Astronomy Department’s Northumberland telescope and dumped it on top of its bunker-shaped building. With a note of positivity, it looks like a reserved nuclear launch site, which does boost my confidence in our commitment to deterrence.
Judge Business School
The quality of education Judge provides is inversely proportional to its architectural aesthetics. Its exotic colour combination, in addition to the excessive number of pillars outside its second floor, wakes me up every time I'm about to shlump on my way to a 9AM. The Old Addenbrooke's Cambridge City Hospital now houses more than 500 students and faculty members of the Business School, which leads us to wonder if John Outram, the architect, was a secretly seeking a cure for modern capitalist societies.
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Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons, University of Cambridge