• Foundress Court, Pembroke College, Cambridge
  • Foundress Court, Pembroke College, Cambridge

Foundress Court, Pembroke College

Our project for Foundress Court provided Pembroke College Cambridge with an entirely new college court built in college grounds, located very close to the historic centre of Cambridge. The building is a single entity of several parts which are: the Master’s Lodge, a family dwelling that can either absorb or shed bedrooms at the second floor whilst offering two large collegiate function rooms; 92 student rooms; a modest car park and a basement with storage; computing; music and gym facilities.

Pembroke College, one of the oldest in Cambridge University, has an extraordinarily rich campus of medieval origins, which expanded over the centuries into a patina of courts, lawns and yards with fine buildings from the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. Asked to design more accommodation for students and a new Master’s Lodge, we set out to understand and develop the special qualities of this unique location, with a view to finding the right position for the new buildings and to plan possible further development.

This led us to explore how spaces and buildings can forge a community of previous, current and unborn generations, honouring the intellectual achievements of the past, supporting those of the present and nurturing those for the future. Our design for Foundress Court and the Master’s Lodge gave physical form to this goal.

The complex nature of this building in an urban context between town streets and a collegiate interior is illustrated by the fifteen elevations that make up the exterior. The two perpendicular wings of the building form the new boundaries to one of the college courts.At the northern end, the building resolves as a raised, cloistered garden; at the western end, the master’s lodge forms the end of the building.

At the intersection of the wings there is a main stair which rises up below the roof lantern, demarcating the new college entrance. To the street side, six new small courts of different character are formed between projecting pavilions. The building is formed from in-situ concrete slabs supported on load bearing blockwork walls. The fabric of the building has been developed to create a building with an anticipated life of over 200 years.

“All in all, it is a most impressive building, particularly in the careful detailing and choice of materials, and it confirms Parry as a major talent of his generation.”
Peter Blundell Jones, The Architects’ Journal


  • Project name: Foundress Court, Pembroke College
  • Client: University of Cambridge
  • Location: Cambridge
  • Completion Date: May 1997


  • Natural Stone Awards - Winner (2000)
  • British Sundial Awards - Winner (2000)
  • Civic Trust Awards - Winner (1999)
  • RIBA East Award - Winner (1998)