New Court by Denys Lasdun is often overlooked because of its private nature; its concrete landscape unfolds majestically within the bounds of Christ’s College – its public facing facade on King Street is merely an average row of shops. Yet this fantastic, monstrous, machine-like Brutalist building built 1968-70 is a joy to climb on a sunny day, with its strange jungle of surrounding plants. This building is featured on the Modern Cambridge Map. Read more about its design here.
Nicknamed the ‘Typewriter’, this seven storey stepped landscape of precast concrete study bedrooms complete with concrete window seats and individual terraces, culminates in courtyards and common rooms towards ground level facing inwards towards the private college grounds, squash courts and laundry rooms in the basement, and a row of shops on King Street.
This landscape, which the architect described as being inspired by ‘hills’ and ‘valleys’, was designed to reduce the height of the building whilst providing a maximum amount of interior space. A long flight of stairs, somewhat reminiscent in its concrete procession of the Alexandra Road Estate (Neave Brown, completed 1978), connects from the Christ’s College grounds into the building, climbing up past the common rooms and towards the study bedrooms.
The study bedrooms are envisioned as individual units, built in a precast concrete panel and beam system, which layer up to create the whole. The craggy peaks rising above the study bedrooms are the plant rooms, which somewhat disrupt the rhythm and give the building its machine-like identity.
Lasdun used the stepped section and the precast individual cell for the design of the University of East Anglia (1962–1968), a building which is much more visible located in a more spacious college campus with a large park and therefore more widely photographed and known.