urban (col)laratory // Helen Stratford & Diana Wesser
Murray Edwards / New Hall Cambridge Phases 1 and 2 was built in 1964 by architects: Chamberlain, Powell and Bonn to accommodate the third women’s college of Cambridge University, founded in 1954. A weeklong period of research followed by 3 performative walks focused specifically on people working at the edges of the college. urban (col)laboratory spent a week talking to Porters, Gardeners, Administrative staff, Caterers, Chefs, Librarians and Maintenance staff to review the college as a stage for everyday performances, rituals and routines from the perspective of those whose functions are academically marginally located, yet whose daily repetition is central to the functioning of the college.
The 3 performative walks for groups of 20 – 30 took place during the evening routines of the college and focused on the position of the audience who became both participants and performers through the locations they were invited to take up in relation to the physical spaces of the college. Staff were invited to take part in the walk, including the Arts Collection Curator who welcomed people and held master keys to all doors en route, the Night Porter who recited the college rules and the Head Gardener who introduced the garden routines while, by torchlight. audience members sipped a hot cup of tea made with garden herbs.
www.newhall.cam.ac.uk, www.cambridgefestivalofideas.org, nightjar.info
(Photographs by Eva Böhmer and Julian Hughes)