The Erasmus Building Project

Sustainability & Accessibility

The College is embarking on an £8.5 million project to decarbonise and refurbish the Erasmus building with two key aims:

  • To increase accessibility by installing a lift
  • To degasify the building by installing air source heat pumps

We have already raised £6.35 million for this vital project, which forms part of the College's plan to reduce its net overall carbon footprint by 50% from its 2020 level by 2030 and to net zero by 2045, in line with our Environmental Policy. This includes managing all activities, buildings and estates to promote environmental sustainability, to conserve and enhance natural resources, and to reduce environmental pollution.

We are currently fundraising for the Erasmus Building Project and remain £2 million short of our goal to complete the full refurbishment and restoration of the building. With your support, we can ensure that this building provides sustainable, accessible accommodation for current and future students at Queens'. Please consider making a donation to this project. Gifts of any size are welcome.

Erasmus Building under construction in September 1959

Erasmus Building under construction in September 1959

Erasmus Building was constructed from 1959-60 to the design of Sir Basil Spence, making it the first Modernist building along the Backs. It was the first student accommodation at Queens' to have central heating, fed from boilers in the basement of Dokett Building. It contains 43 en-suite study-bedrooms and two sets for Fellows. A key part of this project is to repair the building's life-expired roof and install a lift to provide disabled access to the rooms in Erasmus for the first time. During these works, the majority of residents will be temporarily relocated to Owlstone Croft.

"It gives a spectacular view of both sunrise and sunset, looking over the President’s Garden and Walnut Tree Court towards the city. On a misty winter’s day, it’s the most quintessential Cambridge view you can imagine."

'My Room, Your Room' in K39 Erasmus for CAM Magazine with Lara Greening (2023) and Dr Jamie Roberts (2015), former Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby player

Image credit: Megan Taylor for CAM Magazine

Image credit: Megan Taylor for CAM Magazine

Unsurprisingly for the type and age of buildings found at Queens', provision of space heating is the dominant energy demand, comprising 46% of the total across both on and off site properties. Although an advantage when it was originally constructed, the central heating in the Erasmus Building is now inefficient and environmentally unsustainable. The current annual energy demand for space heating in the Erasmus Building in particular is 164,254kWh. We are planning to replace windows with double glazed units, and provide new roof and wall insulation. We are also planning to provide solar shading to windows to reduce the need for summer cooling. Once the fabric improvements have been made, we will replace gas boilers with air source heat pumps (ASHP). £4 million of this project is being allocated for degasification.

The cumulative effect of making the suggested fabric improvements and switching to ASHP for heat generation should result in a reduction in energy consumption of 106,765kWh with a residual consumption of 57,489kWh. This equates to a reduction in carbon emissions of c.50,000kg per annum.

For information on supporting the Erasmus Building Project, visit our website below, or email