Our client, the folk of Gingerbread City, appointed Burwell Architects as part of a team of expert Architects and Designers, to implement the Gingerbread City Masterplan by Tibbalds.
With our expertise in the Higher Education sector coupled with our historic building experience, we embarked on the challenge of Plot A8, a University building set in the renaissance style Cake a Diem district within The Old Town of the Gingerbread City…
RIBA Stage 0
The brief called for a traditional University building to sit comfortably within its historic setting. Symmetrical facades, classic pediments and an iconic half pudding dome were high on the priority list for the folk of the city. The University Crumble London would be become the ‘cradle of wisdom’ for their students and continue to pass down the magnificent recipe secrets of the city through the generations.
RIBA Stage 1
We reviewed the surrounding area of Cake a Diem, along with the neighboring Crumble Hill, home to the iconic Crumble Castle, and it was evident that early liaison with the Gingerbread Metropolitan Authority (GMA) would be key to making this project both successful and respective to it’s neighbours.
RIBA Stage 2
Our design team held a number of end user workshops, which brought together both the students and teachers of Gingerbread City. This determined that whilst a classical renaissance style building was required and preferred, modernisation was also a key criteria for the end users. The team drew up two options for the building, to present to the GMA for pre-planning application. The main building proposed 4 storeys, with east and west wings creating balance and harmony whilst a stepped back 5th storey houses the dome. Refined stairs and a classic portico creates a grand entrance at the foot of the dome. The modernisation came in the form of a ‘Student Hub’. Option 1 proposed this as an extension to the western façade with dramatic lines up to 2 storeys from the stairs. Option 2 proposed a complex basement level hub with a dormer style window complete with sugar cane glazing creating an envelope in the courtyard.
RIBA Stage 3
We received the formal advise from GMA, and the preference was option 2. Option 1 would have removed the renaissance symmetry of the classical building whereas Option 2 allows a striking yet sensitive adaption to the 21st century ‘Student Hub’. The design was developed and stencils where carefully designed to enable a puzzle like modular construction process. Modular construction was chosen based on the ambitious 4 week programme and the expert craftsmanship required for the eloquent details. We looked at both Smartie and Milky Button roof tiles and numerous traditional façade decorations. A white ice, milky button tiles and a sugar cane glazing design palette was selected to compliment the surrounding area whilst complying with GMA Planning Policy GCP2.
RIBA Stage 4
The detailed design process required input from our expert structural engineer. Load bearing internal walls were carefully designed to allow the building to be structurally supportive to its 3 storey high half pudding dome centre piece and accompanying set back 5th floor. A new reinforced Ginger Concrete roof structure with like for like sugar cane glazing to the envelope rooflight formed the new student hub and created a modern centre piece to the main courtyard of University Crumble London.
RIBA Stage 5
Traditional Ginger Concrete formed the main material for the building. Different thicknesses were used to create external and internal walls. The stairs were constructed using stunning Gingerstone. The new basement extension was excavated under the grand portico and staircase. This was achieved by running structural beams from the east and west wings of the main building, as well as adding new columns directly under the portico. The half pudding dome was constructed with innovating techniques that allowed the ginger concrete to be used to match the rest of the building, this led to scrapping the pudding recipe originally specified for the dome. The use of Icing Sugar Cement secured the main elements of the building together, and also formed the grout for the roof tiling to ensure weather proofing over the snow clad City. Traditional Candy Cane Stone columns were sourced and formed the final touch to the grand portico. Liaison with Ecoled, the providers of all lighting solutions across the city, ensured adequate M&E information was available and service tunnels were created through the whole building to allow light to flood through from basement level to the dome. The team used a number of Mortar Icing tools to create the traditional window surrounds to form the detailed uniformed design.
RIBA Stage 6
Completed on time and on budget, the University Crumble London was safely delivered to Gingerbread City on 4th December ahead of the official unveiling on 5th December.
RIBA Stage 7
“University Crumble London has delivered above and beyond our expectations. Providing an exquisite home for teaching and learning for all of the Gingerbread folk across the city! This is a landmark building for the University and indeed the City.” – Professor Smartie-Pants, Dean of University Crumble London.
‘This is the best place to learn. The classic kitchens are wonderful but my favorite place to be is tucked away in the high tech student hub, reading about 13th Century sugarcraft!” – Marshy Mallow, Sugar Historian Student.