Wilkins Building

Tags: education, refurbishment, listed building

  • Client: King’s College Cambridge
  • Architect: Abell Nepp
  • Photography: Chris Tubbs
  • Completion: 2021
  • Expertise: Structures
Wilkins Building - Webb Yates Engineers
Wilkins Building - Webb Yates Engineers

Built in 1828, the Grade I listed Wilkins Building at Cambridge University’s King’s College adjoins the renowned King’s Chapel and Gibbs’ Building. Like many heritage structures, the building was inherently inaccessible to wheelchair users. Whilst awaiting funding for the wider Chetwynd Court auditorium project, the College resolved to improve campus accessibility, starting with the Wilkins Building and the College Bar within.

Webb Yates Engineers provided structural consultancy for the intervention, which refurbishes and modernises the bar, whilst rectifying the inaccessibility caused by multiple steps and raised floors throughout the building. A highly delicate approach was adopted for the access improvements to work with the historic nature of the site; the approaching stone pathway was raised to a gradual slope, whilst avoiding the need for handrails, and a hidden specialist platform lift was sensitively integrated into the internal stair, supported by underpinning works to existing foundations around the portal.

The result is a brighter, more flexible, and more inclusive social space.