Pembroke College, Cambridge

Our projects

Pembroke College, Cambridge


Mill Lane is the first £10.3 million phase of Pembroke College's impressive £75 million masterplan to expand and renovate their existing library space, with phase two expected to complete in 2024. Originally founded in 1347, Pembroke College is the only surviving Cambridge College to still be on its original site, therefore a sympathetic design was crucial. Haworth Tompkins Architects were chosen for their considerate and purposeful designs, with main contractors Cocksedge Building Contractors managing the development of the Mill Lane site with the aim to deliver a modern ‘retreat space’ for entertainment, education and social purposes.

A notable and very generous £35m donation from alumni Ray Dolby and his family helped make this development possible. Ray Dolby invented the famous Dolby sound technology and attended Pembroke College in the late 1950s. Further donations from the colleges’ alumni helped realise the University’s ambitious plans to create a beautiful and bright expansion, in keeping with Pembroke’s commitment to openness and accessibility.

Concept to Completion

Pembroke College wanted to increase the opportunities for a range of accommodation, education and entertainment spaces that could showcase collaborative exhibitions, evening performances and promote a cohesive learning experience. The additional 100 dorm rooms were not intended to bring more students to the college but rather to improve the on-site living opportunities for existing students.

Vobster Architectural were selected to supply wet cast Bath stone, for window surrounds, band courses and landscaping features. Synonymous with elegance and superior quality, cast stone was the ideal material to pair with the facing brick and produce clean, textural definition to the new spaces, which will additionally weather incredibly well. The longevity of the material respects the history of the site and supports the aim to develop a long-standing enhancement to the college space.

The first phase of the Mill Lane development has successfully enriched the conservation area of Pembroke College and the lives of its students


The Bath stone matches that present in the neighbouring landmark, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, tying together the complementary yellow brickwork which was also matched for the new extension next to the Church. The band coursing reflects the architectural style of the local vernacular, integrating the high-quality renovations that now form a new Gateway building leading to the Kenmare Garden courtyard and Dolby Court, furthering the significance of the surrounding listed buildings.

The courtyard creates a space of serenity, where the cast stone frames the generous glazing along the new gallery and public foyer, which is intended to host collaborative exhibitions. The central courtyard houses cast stone benches for outdoor socialising, featuring a ground design that nods towards the industrial mill history of the college site.

The first phase of the Mill Lane development has successfully enriched the conservation area of Pembroke College and the lives of its students. The renovated space brings enhanced warmth and openness to the historic site with its applications of brick matching, cast stone and landscaping. The continuous spaces link harmoniously to provide a stunning site for the students, fellows and visiting public to enjoy for many years to come.