Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge

This Passivhaus student accommodation offers future-proof and accessible homes for Lucy Cavendish College. An all-electric, Passivhaus certified project, the building acts as the sustainable heart of the college campus.

External view across lawn towards Lucy Cavendish College accommodation on a sunny day.

Key information


RH Partnership Architects


Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge



Year of Completion



The building is a part three-storey, part four-storey structure. Situated in the grounds of the college’s site in the West Cambridge Conservation Area, it provides 72 en-suite rooms, social, study and kitchen spaces, and a café that acts as a communal living area. Student wellbeing and accessibility were key principles behind the design, facilitating integration across the college's diverse student body. Working alongside RH Partnership Architects, we provided MEP, sustainability, Passivhaus and acoustics services for the project.

The highly insulated building reduces energy needs for heating or cooling. Carefully-designed windows provide plenty of daylight in each room, making the study bedrooms comfortable spaces to use throughout the day and academic year, without risking overheating. We supported the development of an overall sustainability vision for the college which takes a holistic approach, reducing energy use, encouraging responsible use of materials, supporting biodiversity, and reducing water use.

The building uses electricity as its fuel source, with air-source heat pumps for both domestic hot water and space heating. Indoor air quality is managed through mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, and summer comfort through natural ventilation. In addition to delivering low operational energy, the primary structure of the building is cross-laminated timber, limiting its embodied energy. The project was awarded Passivhaus certification in January 2023.  

2023 Architects' Journal Architecture Awards Higher Education Project