Saint Aidan’s College

Sir Basil Spence and Partners

The Robbins Report (1963) brought profound changes to the traditional University institutions of Durham and Newcastle that would expand their attendance and reshape their campuses. The St Aidan’s Society, an all female body of students at Durham University along with other colleges including Trevelyan and Van Mildert looked beyond the confines of Durham medieval city centre to provide new housing for their expanding student population. The college approached architect Basil Spence who was working across the North East in Newcastle (City Library, Herschel Building amoungst many) and Sunderland (Civic Centre).

A cluster of campus colleges emerged to the south of the Wear looking back towards the Cathedral all taking a low profile as not to infringe upon the views. Spence arranged a series of two, two storey curved opposing buildings to form a courtyard. A slightly larger shared communal block at the north completed the enclosure accommodating the commons rooms, kitchen and dining, the principal’s apartment, 12 guest and study bedrooms. This is marked by a double height dining area with gallery finished with timber shuttered, in-situ vaulted arches common to Spences work at the time such as Sussex University and Glasgow airport.

The Campus has a destinct social feel like Trevelyan college with the focus upon the social spaces for students.