Stanton Williams brings community living to North West Cambridge

Stanton Williams has completed 264 key worker homes, together with generous social spaces and retail facilities in Eddington, North West Cambridge for the University of Cambridge. A network of communal spaces, framed by 10 new buildings, forms the heart of the new neighbourhood.

Stanton Williams’ designs are central to the University’s North West Cambridge development, which  delivers high-quality, affordable housing for university staff, as well as community facilities and market housing.

Heather Topel, Project Director of the North West Cambridge Development said,

“We are delighted with the completion of this final piece of the local centre at Eddington, which establishes a high quality environment for the new and surrounding communities.”

Working with J+L Gibbons, Stanton Williams has given equal attention to both the design of public spaces and the buildings set within them, creating a social landscape which actively encourages interaction and supports communal life.

Gavin Henderson, Principal Director of Stanton Williams, commented

“Our designs build upon the principle of a ‘network of spaces,’ differentiated in scale and character, that together create an engaging public realm analogous to the traditional city. We’re delighted with the positive feedback we have received from the first residents.”

The project is characterised by a series of interconnected courts and squares which differ in scale and function, moving from the large, urban and public Market Square, through to the landscaped and semi-public Landscape Court. Further courts and passages mediate between the two, providing permeability and a more intimate scale, with communal facilities and semi- public functions.

Single-storey cycle pavilions break down the scale and massing of the buildings and turn arrival by bicycle into an opportunity for social interaction. These focus inwards towards central rain gardens lined with trees and seating. Slatted timber façades allow for passive surveillance, and create a lantern effect after dark.

Apartments provide generous living spaces and are often dual-aspect, with natural cross-ventilation and floor-to-ceiling windows which offer views out to the surrounding landscape. The proximity and placement of buildings carefully balance privacy and access to daylight with the intimacy of human scale.

The palette of materials, which includes two tones of brickwork and traditional cobblestones, references the materiality found in the domestic architecture of Cambridge. Building forms are strongly articulated through use of recessed brick piers and horizontal precast concrete cills, with the level of detail on different buildings varied to respond to their prominence within the surrounding context.

Sustainable living is fundamental to the ambition of the North West Cambridge development. The masterplan provides for limited car use, site wide CHP and rainwater harvesting. Within the scheme, cobbled rills channel the rainwater across the site, following primary routes, and terminating in attenuation pools. Edible plants are interspersed throughout the site, and wildlife is actively encouraged with bird boxes and ponds, and a combination of wild, meadowed and manicured lawn areas. Apartments have been designed to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, whilst retail units and non-residential spaces will achieve a BREEAM Excellent.

The project is the latest that Stanton Williams has completed for the University of Cambridge, having delivered the Cambridge Judge Business School transformation in 2018, and having won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2012 for The Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge.