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Observations on the plans for the new library, etc. online

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introduced for lighting the interior, which, while it remedies some defects, intro-
duces a multitude of others which are equally serious, in consequence of its being
forced into the design and not arising naturally from it : it is the neglect of
that great principle of all good and useful architecture, that the exterior of a
building should lie in all cases adapted to the purposes of the interior, which has
more or less vitiated the proper arrangement and lighting of every room through-
out this building.

* Such an entrance must pass through the centre of the School opposite : if
the passage to the gallery of the Divinity School was continued, it would come
out on one side of the front and would require a staircase of at least 1 6 steps.


tion from Clare Hall to the interior of the quadrangle, which
would not only be extremely convenient but almost necessary,
for many reasons which it is not necessary to notice.

The existence of this basement also which is absolutely
essential to a building of a single order, makes it necessary
to raise the whole building at least 4 feet higher than would
be required by the heights of the two ranges of rooms which
it contains, and thus adds greatly to the expense of the struc-
ture without increasing its means of accommodation : it likewise
depresses the floors of the lower rooms to a most inconve-
nient depth below the windows : it prevents all entrances to
the interior quadrangle except from one point and even
renders that solitary approach inconvenient and unnatural :
in conclusion, it may be considered as the source of nearly
all the irremediable defects which we have pointed out in
the lower story of this building.

The Lecture Rooms on the north of the Library are cal-
culated for the accommodation of 500 and 200 persons respec-
tively : between them is placed the Model Room of the
Jacksonian Professor, and at the extremity next the Senate
House is the Apparatus Room of the Plumian Professor.
Above these Rooms are placed rooms for the Syndics of
the Library and for the Librarian, communicating with the
Library through passages which divide and terminate the
narrow courts which we have noticed before (p. 25). I see
no objection to this arrangement except its interference with
the lighting of the adjacent Museums, a fault which is rather
chargeable upon the instructions of the Syndicate than upon
the Architect.

It has been urged as an argument in favour of the
adoption of this plan, in preference to that of Mr. Cockerell,
that it admits of the more easy and immediate adaptation
of the new buildings to the old; for the new Library will
be in the same line with the present Buildings and the
Lecture Rooms will come behind them without any inter-
ference with their present uses. A very little consideration
however, would shew that this argument is altogether un-
founded. For the floor of the new Library would be 12 feet
above that of the old, and whatever communication is



attempted to be made between them must be through a
hole passing above the north-west window of the present
Library. In Mr. Cockerell's plan, the new Library would
at one point nearly touch the old;* but inasmuch as the
floor of one would be only 5 or 6 feet above that of the
other, it would be found on a level, or nearly so, with the
bottom of the present side windows, through which a very
easy communication might be immediately established. In
Mr. Cockerell's plan there is a private staircase to the
Reading Rooms and therefore to the new Library, next to
Trinity Hall: in Mr. Rickman's plan, all entrances to the
new Library must be temporary until the whole is com-
pleted. Again, in Mr. Rickman's plan, the present Record
Room would be immediately destroyed, and the Woodwardian
Museum would have one of its windows blocked up ; whilst
in Mr. Cockerell's plan they would remain untouched. In
the first plan, the Lecture and Apparatus Rooms would come
within 10 feet of the side windows of the Divinity School
and the Library; in the second plan, the new buildings
would be nearly in contact with them, but would leave the
present large north-west window and the three north-east
windows of the Library unobstructed, which would there-
fore, upon the whole, continue to be better lighted than under
the operation of the other plan, t

* It has been asserted, that there would exist great difficulty in sinking the
foundations of the New Building so near the old, without endangering its
safety : no person however who has witnessed examples of shoring up build-
ings, even for the purpose of replacing their foundations, can consider for one
moment, such a danger serious : there is no practical builder in Cambridge who
would not readily undertake the risk of effecting it. It is in order to give a
more open area to the basement story, and greater spaciousness to the
Senate House Passage, that Mr. Cockerell has brought the New Buildings
so near to the Old.

t In Mr. Rickman's plan, the Mineralogical Museum is divided obliquely
by the terminating wall of the present Library : it would be impossible therefore
to complete the floors and fittings of this room and of the portion of the Library
immediately above, inasmuch as they must both of them, in a great measure
be broken up again, when the whole Library was finished : it would be expedient
therefore to stop the new buildings at the termination of the Geological
Museum, and the intermediate distance would afford an opportunity of forming

a tem-


The mention of Mr. Cockerell's plan in the discussion
contained in the last paragraph, leads me immediately to
some description of the plan itself, as a basis for the com-
parison of its merits, with those of the one which we have
already considered.

Mr. Cockerell gives no artificial elevation to his building,
the platform, on which it appears to be placed, being pro-
duced by lowering the ground in front of the Senate House ;
an operation extremely simple, cheap and absolutely neces-
sary in order to give the proper effect to the Senate House
itself, as well as to the surrounding buildings. If the same
operation was continued throughout the whole area in front
of the skreen of King's College, as was recently proposed
by the Commissioners for Paving and Lighting, all the
noble buildings which now adorn, or hereafter may adorn,
this magnificent neighbourhood, would gain greatly in
effect, inasmuch as they now suffer extremely from being
placed upon a descending ground.

The principal front, which is co-extensive, and in the
same line, with the present Library, presents a double
Corinthian colonnade in the centre, and is flanked by two
stoce, forming an inferior order, one of which connects
the building with the Senate House, and the other occupies
a considerable part of the space between it and King's
College Chapel. Such stoce would give scale and mag-
nitude to the principal building, a natural union with the
Senate House, and great richness and variety of effect to
the perspective of the whole group, in all the different
approaches to it. They are not however essential to the
design, however much they might contribute to its beauty,
and there are some reasons which are not of an architectural
nature, which might prevent their introduction. For my
own part, I should be quite willing, to trust to the effect
of the double colonnade, of which no example exists in
England, and which would be unrivalled for depth and

a temporary staircase, of a much more convenient kind than if the new build-
ing was at once advanced up to the end of the present Library : the considera-
tion of this subject will be resumed in a subsequent part of this pamphlet.



richness, and to the graceful proportions of the above eleva-
tion and its perfect harmony with the adjoining Senate House-

The elevation of which we are speaking, is not the
immediate front of the Library, which is 20 feet be-
hind it: the extent of this elevation is necessarily limited
by the position of the Senate House, to that of the front
of the present Library ; and its height must therefore bear
such a relation to its breadth, as may satisfy a just proportion
of those dimensions to each other. But whilst this important
condition is fulfilled, the Architect is enabled by the happy
artifice of throwing the proper front of the Library back upon
another line, to secure the following most important advan-
tages: First, a complete range of the Library from the
ground of King's College to the Senate House Passage:
secondly, a noble elevation to the Library itself, which the
limitation of the height of the advanced front would not
permit : and lastly, an ample Vestibule, Staircases, a Record
Room, Ante Room to Library, Waiting Room, Porter's Apart-
ments and a Librarian's Room, without intruding in any way,
upon the continuity and arrangement of the Library itself, or
of the subjacent Museums and Lecture Rooms. It constitutes
in fact, the true and only solution of the very difficult and
important problem of extending the principal building every
where to the extremity of the disposable ground, and by
that means of securing the spaciousness and light, which
is not attainable in the other plans, however complete their
internal arrangements might otherwise have been.

The principal building, the upper part of which forms
the Library, is 187 feet long by 183 feet broad, and surrounds
a Court whose length and breadth are 104 and 98 feet
respectively. The general* interior width of all the rooms
is 35 feet; the height of the lower rooms is 19^ feet; that
of the Library, to the top of the vaulted cieling is 39 feet ;
all the rooms below, as well as the Library above, are lighted
by windows on both sides^, placed in that position which
experience and good taste have equally sanctioned.

* I must except the south east portion of the Building near Trinity
Hall, which is only 31 feet wide, being limited by the form of the ground.

t A portion of the Museum named that of Zoology in the plan, which
is next the Vice-Chancellor's Room, is lighted by windows looking to the



Auxiliary domical lights, are introduced into the Library,
in order to enlighten the roof and the galleries. I believe the
most careful examination would fail in pointing out a
closet or corner, or any considerable space, to which a
sufficient and natural light would not be able to pene-

The order of succession and dimensions of the several
rooms are as follows:

The Record Room in the south east corner, 31 feet by 17:
it is fire-proof, and being placed underneath a part of the
staircase which leads into the Library, its height is not so
great as that of all the other rooms which follow, though
quite sufficient for the uses to which it is destined.

The Office of the Registrary, is 35 feet by 15^, communi-
cating with the Record Room and Law School ; it is placed on
one side of the great entrance, and is lighted by windows
from it and from the interior quadrangle. The Law School
52 feet by 35 the School of Physic 30 by 35 ; the School
of Arts 30 by 35, and the School of Divinity 51 by 35,
are placed en suite, communicating with each other, and
with separate entrances leading into the quadrangle. In
order to diminish the disproportion existing between the
height and width of these Schools, and to stiffen and
strengthen the floor of the Library above, there are pillars
between each pair of windows, advanced 34 feet from the
wall, and which reduce therefore the perspective width to
27 feet, which in these short rooms, is sufficiently well
adjusted to their common height of 19^ feet.* The spaces
behind the pillars are slightly raised above the intermediate
floor, and admit of a complete communication throughout
the whole range of Schools, and would offer a singularly con-
venient promenade to the examiners when inspecting the

west, on one side only. This is the only portion of a room of very con-
siderable width to which this objection would apply.

* The alternate pillars in the Schools and Museums support likewise the
coupled columns of the Library above, from which the domes spring and
enable the Architect to give not merely a much greater height to the Library
than the external front would allow, but also to simplify and cheapen the con-
struction of the roof.


examinations which are going on immediately beneath them.
When the doors which would generally close these pas-
sages, and the intermediate folding doors are thrown open,
these Schools form one entire room 165* feet in length,
and would be admirably calculated for processions on occa-
sions of ceremony, or, for any other purposes of exhibition.
They would likewise form spacious and cheerful Lecture
Rooms, not merely for the Professors of those faculties to
whom three of them belong, but likewise for all the other
Professors who have no apparatus to prepare or to ex-

The Plumian Lecture Room, which is 38 feet by 22,
and capable of accommodating 136 persons, is placed in
the south-west corner, in a position which would be sufficiently
convenient for the peculiar Lectures which are to be given
in it. In immediate connection with it, near to the grand
entrance from Clare Hall, is placed his apparatus room,
which is 19 feet by 1 5 ; and behind it, next to the quadrangle,
is a small room, about 10 feet by 12, which may be used
as a robing room or for any other purpose.

On the north of the entrance above mentioned, is placed
a theatre, 53 feet by 40, capable of containing 236 persons ;
and immediately after it, we come to the Botanical Museum,
which is 63 feet by 31.

Before we proceed farther, it will be proper to observe,
that there is an ample basement story, extending com-
pletely underneath the west and north sides of the building;
it is throughout 8 or 9 feet high, and lighted generally
from an open area, but on the side next to Clare Hall, by
windows entirely or nearly so above the ground. The
fall of 5 feet in the ground, in passing from the east to
the west front, presents this very great convenience, and

* Mr. Rickman has devoted 220 feet in length to these Schools, and
has left them in a state in which they would afford no more accommodation
to the University, than those which already exist. Let any dispassionate
person compare this part of his plan with that of Mr. Cockerell, and he
will at once perceive the immeasurable distance between them, in the pro-
priety of their ornaments, in their adaptation to all the purposes contemplated,
and lastly in the provision made for light and ventilation.


enables the Architect to add an additional story to his
building, at a very small additional expence.

In the south west angle of this basement story, Mr.
Cockerell has placed apartments for a Resident : it appears
to me an arrangement equally required by prudence and
good sense, to secure by this means, some constant guardian-
ship and protection to buildings so extensive, and so full
of precious articles of every kind. In the present building,
the Library and Schools are locked up at the same hour,
and the Woodwardian Professor and the Registrary, are the
only persons besides the Librarian, who are authorized to
enter it at a later moment. But in the new building, in
which nearly all the Professors would have their Lecture
Rooms or Workshops, and in which all the public collections
would be deposited, it is of the utmost consequence that there
should be an authorized guardian of the whole constantly on
the spot, with whom the keys should be deposited, by whom
the doors should be locked, the stoves lighted and extin-
guished, dirt and nuisances removed, strangers conducted,
and any other services performed, which were connected
with this most extensive and important establishment. It
is not a little remarkable that both the Syndicates should
have overlooked this most necessary provision, and the
reparation of the omission, is an additional proof of the
extraordinary care and watchfulness, with which Mr.
Cockerell has examined and studied every part of the

Underneath the Theatre and the range of Museums, are
placed Workshops and Store Rooms, for the different Pro-
fessors, sufficient in number and magnitude for every use
for which they may be required: but as no directions were
given for their precise nature or distribution, it is not to
be expected that they should appear upon the plan in the
positions or order or with the denominations, which would
be ultimately assigned to them. In the same basement also,
the stoves would be placed for warming the Museums and
Library above them. In short, there is no provision made
in any other plan, for a great multitude of minor, but im-
portant conveniences, which is any way comparable to what

has been effected by Mr. Cockerell, by this cheap, simple,
and natural arrangement.*

The Museum of Mineralogy, which immediately succeeds
to that of Botany, is 40 feet long and 35 feet wide; that
of Geology which is next to it, is 57 feet long by 35 ;
the last in order is that of Zoology, which is 93 feet by 35,
and which occupies the whole space between the Senate
House Passage and the Vice-Chancellor's room, which
adjoins the grand entrance. The common height of all
these Museums is 19| feet; and they form with the Museum
of Botany, a continued range of 255 feet in length, an
extent of accommodation of which no similar example exists
in England, and which, if properly furnished, would speedily
redeem the character of this University from the just charge of
possessing no adequate means of teaching natural* know-

These Museums are lighted by windows on both sides,
in the same manner as the Schools. The pillars which are
introduced in the same manner likewise, would be incor-
porated in the cases in which the specimens are placed. The
Workshops and Unpacking Rooms, are placed immediately
below, and every required convenience is immediately at
command. The Rooms are so completely lighted, that cases
may be placed in all parts of the rooms, without having
one side in shade. Their great width and perfect lightness
also, would generally make them the most convenient of all
Lecture Rooms, for those Professors to whom they belonged ;
and they would thus serve, in addition to their primary
destination, very greatly to increase the amount of that
species of accommodation, which has formed the great object
of so many wishes, and so many enquiries .t

Some persons have contended, that an area of 63 feet

* We have remarked before the necessary absense of a basement story
in Mr. Rickman's plan : and the impossibility of providing apartments for a
resident which is unquestionably an object of first rate importance.

t In the course of the last summer, I had an opportunity of examining
the principal Museums of Paris and Edinbugh, with a particular view to the
plans which were in agitation at Cambridge. I found the Museum of
Zoology in the Jardin des Plantes, which is lighted by side windows in the



by 31, is excessive for a Museum of Botany, and that it
is not expedient to devote the space of 93 feet by 35, for
a Museum of Zoology, however extensive the subject may
be. It is very rarely that we have occasion to complain of
too much accommodation, and it is quite clear that a similar
charge cannot be advanced against the other plan. But
whilst I may allow that the first space is larger than necessary
for the object proposed, and that there might exist some
reasonable doubt about retaining the second, yet I may very
safely assert, that the University would feel no embarrassment
about its useful appropriation. Thus, in the first place, a
part of the space assigned for the Botanical Museum might
be immediately converted into an excellent Lecture Room.
A part of the Museum of Zoology might in that case be
converted into a Museum of Botany, and the name of
Zoology in the remaining part be replaced by that of com-
parative Anatomy. Changes like these are very simple
and easy, when the only difficulty consists in a change of
the position of the partitions of a room or series of rooms,

roof, dark and ill ventilated, even under the bright sky of the month of
August. The fine range of rooms below, containing fossil and mineral
geology, minerals, &c. shells, fishes, reptiles, &c. are lighted by large French
windows on one side, generally, with a clear eastern aspect the light is
abundant, whenever the specimens were confined to the flat surface of the
walls ; but very imperfect, when specimens were suspended from the del-
ing, or placed in cases in the centre. The accommodation provided for
the noble collections of comparative anatomy, is disgraceful to that great
establishment. The Museum of Edinburgh is a magnificent room, pos-
sessing windows on one side, with a large sky-light ; it is generally well
and agreeably lighted, except on the side above the windows, and imme-
diately below the roof, which derives light neither from the windows nor the
iky-light. The most miserable of all species of lighting and ventilating, is
that from the flat roof only, such as has been adopted in the large room
above the King's Library in the British Museum, and such as was pro-
posed by Mr. Rickman for the Library in his first design ; this leaves the part
of the roof which is not -uindow as well as the wall immediately adjoining
constantly in shade. If however the cieling is vaulted throughout, the same
objection does not apply, and the shade altogether diappears. The same
remark applies to a light placed in the apex of a dome, which illuminates the
dome itself and the walls from which it springs, and of all species of auxiliary
light is the most pleasing and satisfactory.


which are every where similarly circumstanced or very
nearly so.*

The Vice- Chancellor's Room which is placed near to the
grand entrance, is 22 feet long by 16, and is lighted in the
same manner as the Office of the Registrary : behind it is a
small waiting-room, 12 feet by 11. These rooms were provided
at the particular request of some Members of the first Syn-
dicate, in consequence of a wish expressed by the Vice-
Chancellor, who considered such a room as likely to be
very useful on many occasions :t adjoining to the open
vestibule, in the advanced front of the Library and beneath
the Librarian's room, are placed two rooms which are destined
to form apartments for a porter, whose dimensions are 19 by
18, and 20 by 18 ; if such a servant should not be deemed
necessary in this part of the Library, the rooms in question
might be appropriated to the use of the Vice-Chancellor,
and the Vice-Chancellor's room thrown into the general
space for the Museums.

We have now made the complete circuit of the rooms
on the ground floor, and have returned to the grand entrance
from which we started. This entrance is 16 feet wide, and
19^ feet high, leading from the open vestibule and double
colonnade on the east, to the interior quadrangle on the
west; it is upon the same level with the court and the
vestibule, and leads directly to a similar entrance descending
by two flights of steps to Clare Hall ; thus presenting a clear
and uninterrupted view through the whole building from
St. Mary's Church to Clare Hall, and throwing a full and
beautiful light upon the colonnade from whatever point of
view it may be seen.

Upon entering the Court, the spectator would find a
wall bounding the great Theatre, of the same height with

" The areas of the Museums in this plan and in that of Mr. Rickman
are 950 and 470 square yards respectively.

t It might be used by the Vice-Chancellor for occasional Syndicates, or
when attending examinations or ceremonies at the Schools; or as a retiring
room when holding courts in the adjoining Law School ; or as a retiring
room for the examiners generally, and for many useful purposes connected with
the Library.


the bottoms of the Library floor, and pierced with
windows for the Theatre and with doorways as entrances
to the Museums, and adjusted so as to present a general
character of symmetry with the adjoining wall of the Schools.
The breadth of this portion of the quadrangle is 54 feet: such
a wall however would intercept no portion of the sky-light
from the windows of the Schools or the Museums ; and as it
would limit the view of the spectator to the upper part of
the Court beyond it, it would possess some advantage in
saving expense in the decoration of the interior of this part
of the quadrangle *.

On the other side of this wall, is placed the great Theatre,
a segment somewhat greater than a semicircle, whose radius

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Online LibraryGeorge PeacockObservations on the plans for the new library, etc. → online text (page 4 of 6)