Homerton College Dining Hall

Homerton College Dining Hall

Homerton College Dining Hall

Built using sweet chestnut glulam for the frame and internally lined with ash, the award-winning Homerton College Dining Hall by Feilden Fowles celebrates the structural capability and natural beauty of timber by forging a modern response to traditional forms of construction.

Soaring long-span butterfly trusses in the dining hall, consisting of large beams and columns of engineered sweet chestnut, echo traditional collegiate halls, albeit inverting the typical pitch into a valley-shaped roof. This structure was crucial to the design from the outset, enabling a wide, open space with no interrupting supports.

Homerton College Dining Hall
homerton college from feilden fowles-2
homerton college from feilden fowles
Homerton College by Constructional Timber

Comprising a dining hall, buttery, kitchens and associated amenities, this majestic new building allows Homerton – Cambridge’s youngest and most populous college – to expand and inhabit more of its grounds.

Balancing both the functional and celebratory demands of the brief, the hall itself is bright, airy and efficient by day; transforming into a dramatic ceremonial space at night. The adjoining buttery serves as a café, affording students additional socialising and study space on the balcony.

Located alongside Homerton’s Grade II-listed Ibberson Building and Victorian Gothic Revival buildings, the dining hall draws on the Arts & Crafts tradition. A celebration of materiality and craftsmanship is found in every detail: from the external façade of 3,200 glazed green faience tiles to the pinkish pigmented concrete columns on the ground floor to the rippling, silver tones of the ash lining.

Built using sweet chestnut glulam for the frame and internally lined with ash, the award-winning design by Feilden Fowles celebrates the structural capability and natural beauty of timber by forging a modern response to traditional forms of construction. Soaring long-span butterfly trusses in the dining hall, consisting of large beams and columns of engineered sweet chestnut, echo traditional collegiate halls, albeit inverting the typical pitch into a valley-shaped roof. This structure was crucial to the design from the outset, enabling a wide, open space with no interrupting supports.

The unique nature of this timber design is visible throughout: found in the remarkable use of slender sweet chestnut coppice in a structure of this size; in the unusual form of the butterfly truss; and in the design and resolution of the traditional carpentry connections. Seldom used in conjunction with high performing engineered timber, interlocking joints and pegs negated the need for steel bolts and plates.

The incorporation of carpentry-led connections was made possible through close collaboration with the timber fabricators, Constructional Timber, and structural engineers, Structure Workshop, who made use of scale models and ultimately a full-scale prototype. The resulting elegance is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also integral to the structural principles. By transferring forces entirely through bearing, the compressive strength of timber parallel and perpendicular to the grain is exploited.

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