Downing moves outdoors

It was Plato who first suggested that necessity is the mother of invention. He clearly foresaw a distant time when meeting and socialising with friends would be transformed from the easiest, most natural thing in the world into an exercise littered with obstacles, hobbled by uncertainty and constrained by all-too-necessary health protocols.  And so for the new academic year which begins in October, Downing College has created two exciting outdoor spaces for students to gather together safely as long as Government regulations permit.

An outside extension to the Butterfield Café and Bar has been built, called the Butterfield Taverna. The Taverna features ten socially-distanced, covered seating areas; bright and casual for meetings, coffee and sandwiches by day, and perfect for a drink with friends in the evening underneath overhead lighting and heaters. The regular music, comedy and quiz nights that have become such an integral part of Downing’s social life will now take place in an intimate, walled and tree-lined enclosure that also meets all the essential health guidelines necessary for our mutual wellbeing in these difficult times.

There will be a new open-air performance space:  the Downing Amphitheatre, where all the theatre, stand-up, live music, dance and film the College would normally offer indoors will take place.  Designed to maximise the full potential of the College’s large Paddock site, our new Amphitheatre will feature one hundred and fity circles marked on the ground, radiating outwards in a fan-shape from a raised, outdoor stage area. Each circle will be two metres in diameter and two metres away from any other. There’s plenty of room to stretch out – or snuggle up if you’re with someone from your ‘household’ – and there’s no need to worry about all that damp grass on the rare occasion it might rain in Cambridge. Each circle will have a deckchair!

At Downing, we’re determined to make sure there’s life – and leisure – for our students during lockdown. We think Plato would approve.

Read more on the Butterfield Taverna

Read more on the Downing Amphitheatre


Image: Buttefield Taverna, artist’s impression by Steve Bennett


Published 8 September 2020.