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JUNE 2018

Auckland Tower model included in RA Summer Exhibition

A model of our proposals for the Welcome Building at Auckland Castle is now on display in the Architecture Room of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. Representing one of the two projects we are working on at Auckland Castle, the model is titled Auckland Tower, The Auckland Project and is made out of walnut and brass. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition celebrates its 250th anniversary this year. It has been curated by Grayson Perry CBE RA with the Architecture Room selected by Royal Academician Piers Gough. The exhibition runs through the summer until the 19th August.


MAY 2018

West Court, Jesus College wins RIBA Awards

We are delighted that our project West Court for Jesus College Cambridge has won an RIBA Regional Award and Tom McGlynn was awarded the RIBA East Project Architect of the Year. The project design includes the refurbishment and extension of the Grade II listed Webb Building with new café pavilion and basement bar, and the remodelling and extension of the 1970’s Rank Building fronting Jesus Lane.

The judges commented “This extension to Jesus College manages the difficult trick of feeling entirely old fashioned in its use of hand crafted materials … while remaining entirely modern in its loose geometry, use of daylight and simplicity of forms. Jesus College now offers a sequence of rational, thoughtful spaces that seems inevitable, but we know took a great deal of architectural skill and determination to deliver”


MAY 2018

A Stone Glossary

William ‘Strata’ Smith’s 1815 Geological Map, the first nationwide geological map ever published.

We are in the process of choosing the stone to be used for a new building in Cambridge. It has been an apparently exhaustive journey through marbles and limestones from the UK, Europe and beyond. We amass endless samples, and talk in detail to quarrymen, masons and engineers about bed heights, weathering, and reliability of supply, as well as the inevitable costs to quarry the stone, cut it to shape, and fix it together to form a building. One of the most fascinating elements of this process are the specialist terms used to describe building stones and their properties. Below is a list of a few favourite words, ordered to explain the material properties that have so far governed our explorations for this new project.

The Clipsham Quarry at Rutland in Lincolnshire. Clipsham Stone occurs in the Inferior Oolite of the Jurassic System, where it was laid down between 174 and 163 million years ago. Clipsham is a popular building limestone with a characteristic golden colour. We have recently worked with it at Bishop Edward King Chapel in Cuddesdon and the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre in Oxford.

Bedding plane

Many building stones, including all limestones, are sedimentary rocks, formed by the gradual settlement and compression of underwater sediment over millions of years. The directional way in which they were formed governs their properties and how they can be used as building stones. Most UK limestones must be used ‘naturally bedded’, i.e. orientated in the building in the same way that they were formed in the ground. This means the height of the blocks is limited to the depth of the bed, rarely more than 1m in the UK. ‘Face-bedding’, when blocks are laid so their bedding planes are parallel with the vertical face of the block, can lead to rapid weathering and crumbling.


A stone that began as another type of rock and changed as a result of exposure to heat and pressure over geological time. Marble was originally limestone, and is chemically identical to it. However, the metamorphic processes changed its physical properties so that it does not have bedding planes, and can be cut and orientated in any direction. This makes it ideal if tall blocks are required.


The chemical process by which Travertine is formed, usually when geothermally heated water is exposed to the air, causing it to degas and carbonate minerals to precipitate out from the water. Although a type of limestone, its distinctive formation means it also doesn’t have bedding planes and is workable in much longer, thinner pieces than sedimentary stones.


A type of limestone made from an amalgamation of individual grains called ooliths. An oolith is a tiny carbonate particle surrounded by concentric layers of calcium carbonate, which were deposited as the ooliths were rolled around on the bed of the clear shallow sea in which the stone was formed. This gives the stone an even structure so it can be cut or sculpted in any direction, a characteristic which makes oolitic stones ‘freestones’. Portland Stone is an oolitic limestone used extensively in London’s historic buildings, perhaps most famously in churches by Cristopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Christ Church Spitalfields.