Selwyn College, Cambridge  [MENU]

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140 Years of Selwyn
An Anniversary Appeal

Two new projects to improve teaching, living and learning in celebration of 140 years of successful growth.

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Three hostels 3D modelling

The college recently took the opportunity to expand its property portfolio around the main site with the purchase of a former vicarage in 1 Selwyn Gardens. This will be converted into accommodation for up to 10 graduate students, and will offer an expansion of our affordable housing for MCR members.

The Selwyn Gardens site has a direct connection through its garden to the existing hostels at 29 and 31 Grange Road, both of which are due for refurbishment. We are therefore looking at the site holistically, and aiming to create an environmentally sustainable project which will deliver green solutions wherever possible.

The 3D computer aided design illustration above shows what might be possible, though the detailed plans will not be confirmed until they’re approved by the college’s governing body.

The primary motivation for wanting to create sustainable housing for our students is to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the college – CO2 being one of the main contributors to climate change. One of the most effective ways to do this is to retrofit older buildings so that you achieve high levels of insulation and airtightness of walls, windows and roofs.

The opportunities offered by this exciting project include the provision of ground source heating for each hostel. These systems will provide low cost heating and hot water for decades to come, significantly reducing the college’s dependence on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. We’ll also be looking to install waste water heat recovery systems on showers, reducing further the overall hot water energy demands.

Aside from the major changes to heating and improving the fabric of the buildings, we’ll be looking for incremental improvements across the board. LED downlighting will be used throughout, some controlled by movement sensors and only active when there is insufficient daylight available. Electric charging points for vehicles will also be considered, alongside secure cycle storage. The Selwyn Gardens property will also have a fully accessible room on the ground floor, with the kitchen and communal areas redesigned to meet the requirements of all users.

Overall we estimate these improvements will reduce the carbon footprint of the site by over 60% compared with current use. We’ve tried to balance performance with value and we are confident our plans will deliver improved comfort, reduced carbon emissions and a clear commitment to environmental performance. Cambridge has no end of older properties used for student accommodation and we hope that this project will provide an exemplar and an inspiration to other colleges and the university as to what can be achieved.

It all comes at a cost of course – which will be carefully reviewed before going ahead. If any alumni and friends are in a position to help financially, the Development Director Mike Nicholson would be very pleased to hear from you and to provide details of our plans.

Contact details: or telephone +44 (0)1223 330403.

If you wish to make a donation towards the Three Hostels Project, please click the button below, and select from the 'Designation' drop down menu.

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Old Library

Now that the Bartlam Library is built, and being used by our students, we can turn our attention to the exciting plans for the old library.

The ground floor of the original memorial library will be completely refurbished to create five flexible teaching spaces with movable walls to enable them to be converted into larger rooms. During the vacations, these spaces can double up as conference breakout rooms, earning income for the college and supporting our business plan.

A new resource facility for medic & vet students
One of these spaces will be a new facility of a dedicated teaching and demonstration room for the medical specimens ‘handling collection’, for medic and vet students. Selwyn has an impressive collection of anatomical models, skeletons, teaching aids and large illustrations, all of which would be enhanced by the provision of new digital resources such as virtual cadavers and augmented reality (AR) anatomy teaching aids. AR technology used to be associated with the world of gaming, however its immersive nature offers limitless opportunities to enhance medical learning in different ways and particularly the teaching of anatomy.
This new teaching and study room would provide students with 24-hour access to these resources so they can be used during formal supervisions and teaching sessions but also in their own time for further learning and understanding. Overall, our aim is to create a resource that will be the best of its kind in Cambridge.

A new hub for alumni and friends
Meanwhile, the upper floor of the library will become a new home for our alumni, together with the offices of the Development and Alumni Relations team. A light and comfortable reception area will be available for alumni and friends who may wish to meet, whether you are attending an event or simply passing through Cambridge. There will be tea making facilities and copies of books and publications by alumni to browse – and of course the opportunity to meet and chat with members of the development team.

Archives and rare books
The ground floor extension will provide much improved facilities for the college archives and its collection of rare books. These new facilities will benefit from environmental controls and inert shelving, providing a more suitable home for these important collections. 
The location means that access to these collections will be much improved, easier to find and use. We hope that this in turn will stimulate a greater interest in the history of the college and underline the importance of alumni donations of photographs, records and other ephemera that new generations find so interesting. The archives will also offer a dedicated research area and exhibition space, allowing more of the collections to be explored, displayed and enjoyed. 

All the works are planned to be completed by Michaelmas 2022.

The costs of the refurbishment and improvements will be £1.4m. In return, students and alumni will enjoy tremendous new facilities in the heart of Selwyn. If you are able to help us with this important project please donate using the button below.

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Archive materials and rare books



Snippets from Selwyn...





Development & Alumni Office, Selwyn College, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DQ. Tel:  01223 767 844  Email:

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