King’s celebrates 'Henry VI: the 500th Anniversary Project'

Please note: this news story was published on 1 April.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the completion of its magnificent Chapel, King’s College is delighted to announce that work is soon to commence on a substantial redevelopment of its buildings.

The new facilities will contribute significantly to the College’s efforts toward a more sustainable infrastructure whilst sympathetically reflecting the College’s surviving historic buildings.

The King's redevelopment plan

The redevelopment fits within the original plan of the never-completed works designed by Henry VI in 1448, and is therefore exempt from planning permission.

The most visible of the new buildings will be the reinstated bell tower, which was demolished in 1739. The new tower, which will be significantly higher than the original, will be constructed of glass and steel, and utilise passive solar heating across five floors. The tower will include the new Henry VI Visitor Centre, which will contain viewing galleries, restaurants and shops catering to the needs of more than a million visitors each year.

The Visitor Centre will provide ticket holders with exclusive views of the iconic West End of the Chapel, which will no longer be visible from the river.

The redevelopment also includes a Henry VI-inspired cloister leading to student accommodation in a new building under the Back Lawn, sensitively designed for the site. It will provide considerable privacy to the residents of Clare College whilst adding much-needed grazing space for the College cow.

The new Visitor Centre will provide disabled access to the Chapel roof where, at the lower level, a walkway will allow visitors to enjoy views of Cambridge and the surrounding area. At the upper level, above the solar roof, a new Fellows’ Lawn will allow the College’s senior academic staff space to exercise and relax. The eco-friendly design is in keeping with the College’s ‘forever green’ policy.

Plans for the Chapel roof

The largest (and least-visible) part of the redevelopment plan will be the replacement of the Chapel’s eroded stonework with an exact replica of the building constructed from steel and fiberglass. This will allow for the installation of cavity wall insulation and double-glazed stained glass windows, which will considerably reduce the carbon footprint of the Chapel’s operations.

Stone grotesque

The stone grotesques and gargoyles will be retained and greened for water capture and acid rain cleansing

Revd Lloyd Morgan, Henry VI Visionary & Project Manager, said “I’m delighted to be announcing the plans for the redevelopment of the College on this special day. The new buildings, wonderfully designed by King’s alumni at MKThink, will contribute considerably both to the visitor experience and to the vitality of College life, whilst reflecting the College’s commitment to the stewardship of its historic site.”

The total cost of the quincentennial redevelopment is expected to be £180m. This will be met entirely though the sale of the old Chapel structure to an American university. The university is expected to refit the building as an extension to its sports centre, and use it as a practice field for its Ultimate Frisbee team.

To find out how you can help shape the Chapel’s future, see Support the Chapel.

1 April 2015