Yesterday afternoon I visited The Attenborough Building – ‘a conservation Campus like no other’ – as part of the Open Cambridge Programme. It was good to see the clean, elegant lines of the Dowson/Arup building revealed after an environmentally sensitive renewal. With the removal of clutter, it can now stand proud as a fine example of modernism in Cambridge’s wider architectural heritage. The 13m high living green wall in the Andre Hoffmann Atrium contains 8,736 plants of 24 species from 11 regions or countries.
Outside, an artwork by Ackroyd and Harvey takes inspiration from a black walnut tree in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Created from thousands of layers of slate and built up to create a layered visual effect, internal spaces provide habitats for a range of wildlife including bats, solitary bees, spiders and insects. ‘The artwork is akin to a graphite pencil drawing with subtle shading and tonalities that shift and change as the light plays across the slate surface.’ The reference to the walnut tree acknowledges the history of the New Museums Site as the original home to the botanical garden in the 18th century.
Photos: 1. Living green wall, Attenborough Building; Cambridge, September 2017; 2. Ackroyd & Harvey artwork, Attenborough Building, Cambridge, September 2017