Newnham College was founded in 1871 as a college for women attending lectures in Cambridge, long before they were allowed to become full members of the university. In 1948 the women of Cambridge attained full status as members of the University, thanks to the work of many suffragists and activists who campaigned for equality in education.

The contemporary addition to the College campus – the award-winning Dorothy Garrod Building – is named after Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod, the first woman to hold an Oxbridge chair. It includes a welcoming Porters’ Lodge, conference facilities, a gym, offices, meeting rooms, student bedrooms, kitchen/social areas, and a café, as well as a new entrance to the College.

Central to the brief was to create a warm, inviting environment, where students could feel at home. Optelma worked closely with lighting designer Nulty to light the social areas and meeting rooms, creating spaces that support interaction.

Located in the heart of the College, the Iris café space encourages new friends to meet. Optelma’s Lingfield decorative pendant works with the interiors and furniture to zone areas, using warm colour temperatures and decorative lighting to create a cosy environment.

The offices and meeting rooms feature high ceilings, large windows, built-in bookcases and oak floors. Complementing the high-quality accommodation, Optelma’s Laxa pendants provide direct and indirect lighting, helping to increase the visual ceiling height and enhancing the contemporary, domestic feel. The stylish luminaire provides task-lighting for studying, while adding visual interest and maintaining warmth and comfort.

Commenting on the success of the design, Anna Sandgren, Associate Lighting Designer at Nulty said: ‘The lighting design at the Dorothy Garrod Building helps to create a warm and welcoming environment for students. Optelma’s Lingfield and Laxa pendants were integral to the scheme, which is underpinned by interesting details and fine finishes.’

Client: Newnham College, Cambridge
Architect: Walters & Cohen
Interior design: Ab Rogers Design
Lighting designer: Nulty
Lighting design and manufacturer: Optelma

2019 RIBA East Awards – Building of the Year
2019 RIBA National Awards
2019 AJ Architecture Awards, Higher Education Project of the Year – shortlisted
2020 Civic Trust Awards

Images: © James French