Cambridge Architecture Gazette CA72

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CAMBRIDGE ARCHITECTURE Cambridge Association of Architects Gazette






Two different approaches to conservation at Trinity and St. John’s


Mecanoo Architecten and Edward Leigh discuss the Greater Cambridge City Deal


Potential transport schemes


Anne Cooper considers the humble brick and its relationship with Cambridge


Take part in our competition to win three months’ membership of the Glassworks gym!



In September, the CAA sent this letter to the GCCD Executive Board


Dr Colin Harris discusses sustainable mass transport in Cambridge

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Cover photo: The AstraZeneca site at Cambridge Biomedical Campus © Richard Fraser Photography


Tom Foggin explores the value of discussing our ideas


Current and recent projects from architects around the region


See the work of two of the recipients of the RIBA East and CAA Student prizes


The CAA sits down with Andrew Drummond of R H Partnership


This edition of Cambridge Architecture looks at the idea of context. In a city with such a rich history, how does contemporary Cambridge architecture relate and respond to its surroundings? We examine some ways in which architects are interpreting and in some cases challenging the context of centuries of architectural heritage. We compare two projects in the centre of Cambridge that take very different approaches to context, and look in more depth at some of the issues that face a growing historic city, including the City Deal.



SPONSORS AC Architects Cambridge Ltd Anthony Cooper Barber Casanovas Ruffles Ltd bb+c architects ltd CFCI Chadwick Dryer Clarke Cowper Griffith Architects Dalton Muscat Architects DPA Architects Feilden+Mawson George Davidson Architect Goose Architects Ltd Harvey Norman Architects John Honer Leon Waldock RIBA M Reynolds RIBA marek sekowski architect Mart Barrass Architect Ltd. Mirjana Stojanovic-Rathmell Mole Architects mosescameronwilliams architects N J Twitchett Peter Rawlings Architects Ltd Project 5 Architecture r h partnership Rob Howard MA RIBA Saunders Boston studio24 architects Tristan Rees-Roberts Ze'ev Feigis


Cambridge Association of Architects Gazette News

CFCI LEGO COMPETION On Tuesday 13 December, the CFCI are holding their annual Lego Competition in conjunction with the Norwich Forum for the Construction Industry, and they’re looking for 10 teams to take part. For registration and competition details, please see the CFCI website:

CAMBRIDGE ARCHITECTURE GAZETTE Cambridge Architecture Gazette is a review produced by the Cambridge Association of Architects, the local chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The views in this magazine are those of individual contributors (named and unnamed), and not of the Association. ISSN 1361-3375 Any comments or for a copy of magazine, contact EDITORS David Adams, Tom Foggin, Ze’ev Feigis. ADVERTISEMENT SALES Marie Luise CritchleyWaring ( Published by Bright Publishing.



On the 1st October, ‘Keeping Cambridge Special’ was held at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Mathematical Sciences, chaired by Professor Peter Landshoff, and including talks by Tom Foggin (Secretary of the CAA), David Cleevely (Cambridge Ahead), Nicky Padfield (Master of Fitzwilliam College), Wendy Blythe (FECRA), and discussion by Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council.


UNIVERSITY FRAMEWORK REVEALED The list of architects on the Framework for future developments for the University of Cambridge contains very few local practices, it has been revealed. Whilst the 14-strong list contains notable names in education design such as Cullinan Studio, BDP and Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, there are only two firms based in or near Cambridge itself, a disappointing number in a city with practices that have significant education expertise. © Luka Pajovic



The CAA is sad to record the passing of Roger Coombs RIBA. Roger was involved in the South Essex Chapter for over 40 years, as member, Secretary, Treasurer and as Chairman (twice). He was tireless in organising speakers for the Chapter, and countless building visits in the UK and abroad. A true professional, he will be sadly missed by Judith his wife, and his friends and colleagues. The Chapter never had a more diligent and loyal member.

The CAA have awarded their annual Student Prize to Luka Pajovic, for the quality of his Year 2 Portfolio. A cheque for £250 was presented to Professor James Campbell, on Luka’s behalf, at the End of Year show in London, in July. Luka’s portfolio was regarded by the Department of Architecture as being of an extremely high standard.

© Cahit Okten


CORRECTION: SPONSOR INTERVIEW PHOTO CREDIT The photo of Adrian Nicholas in the Sponsor Interview article for CA71 was misattributed. The correct photo credit for the photo of Adrian is Cahit Okten, of Cambridge Multi Media Resources ( BB + C Architects apologise for any confusion.

The CAA are continuing their campaign of involvement in schools and education programmes in the area, in order to raise awareness of architecture and encourage creativity with students. If you would like to get involved, or have suggestions for any schools which might benefit from RIBA outreach, please contact Ann Bassett via


RIBA East have elected Mark Savin, chair of the Suffolk Chapter of the RIBA, as the new Chair Elect of RIBA East. Mark will take over from Nicolas Tye, the current Chair, in September 2017.


The CAA have continued to provide input and comments into the Mill Road draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Several members attended the recent workshops, and the CAA reviewed and provided comments on the proposal documents.





ON THE CAM In Cambridge, ‘context’ can mean different things. Peter Sparks, architect, and Fellow of Girton College, examines two local renovation projects: The Cripps Building at St John’s College Cambridge, by R H Partnership, and Trinity’s New Court, by 5th Studio WORDS PETER C J SPARKS

The River Court, with repaired concrete and bronze windows, and new leadwork to the river range © Matthew Smith

‘Who decides? Who pays? Who benefits?’ These were the words of my studio tutor Michael Brawne (Lecturer at Cambridge University, 1964-1978)‚ as I sat at my drawing board, a graduate student lost in a project to ‘double the size of Cambridge’. The St John’s Cripps building had recently been completed to great acclaim and was often cited by Michael in studio criticism. In the case of Cripps his response would be simple: the College decided; one of its alumni paid; and the Fellows and students benefited. We were a small group that year and reacted badly to our mega-task. The following year we rebelled and wrote a joint paper (‘The St

Matthew’s Project’ 1971 and ‘Sparks, Thomson and Wills, Some Notes on Housing’, 1972) extolling the benefits of upgrading redundant existing stock. So far, so prescient. To be shown around Powell and Moya’s St John’s Cripps Building, refurbished last year by R H Partnership, and Wilkins’ Trinity New Court, where the refurbishment by 5th Studio was recently completed, has been an astonishing experience for an academic architect who last practised in the late 1970s. The question of ‘who decides?’ seems nowadays to be defined by years of detailed technical and historical research, with the overarching issues of climate change and the

‘Who Who decides?’ decides? seems to be defined by years of detailed technical and historical research environment always uppermost in the decisionmaking process. Of ‘who pays?’ we are not told but, even for wealthy institutions, this generally means some serious fundraising. The question of ‘who benefits?’ is one to which I shall return.




The newly accessible roof terrace with stainless steel handrails and perforated 'seat mask' © Matthew Smith

The refurbished building from the school of Pythagoras © Matthew Smith

CRIPPS BUILDING ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE The refurbishment of the Cripps building was completed last year by R H Partnership Cripps, which was completed in 1967, is probably Powell and Moya’s finest university building, an inventive four-storey elemental ribbon of concrete, Portland stone, and bronze that meanders the Bin Brook while creating courtlike spaces against the brick rear of Rickman’s 1820 New Court and the 12th century School of Pythagoras. From the outset the building gained accolades, which was unusual at the time for such a building in such a setting (see, inter alia, Architectural Review, September 1967). Generous student rooms (almost twice the maximum floor area for a publicly-funded student room permitted at the time) with bucolic views through large windows, were organised traditionally around staircases,


but kitchen provision was cramped: undergraduates were still expected to want to dine communally in the Hall. The cranked grid of piles and in-situ concrete floor and roof slabs was a response to the Bin Brook and old monastic fishponds on which Cripps is founded. The facade fits into the structure as an elemental assembly of Portland stone, precast concrete and lead, like all of Powell and Moya’s university work (the exception is the bronze of the windows, exclusive to this project and suggested by the donor, Cripps, and manufactured by his subsidiary company, Pianoforte Supplies Ltd). Famously the College requested a building with a lifespan of 500 years that prioritised low maintenance over initial cost (Architects’ Journal, 4 October 1967). Of course, at the time, the College was only 450 years old!

The Cripps Building's relationship to the river © R H Partnership


The much enlarged and more sociable kitchens are proving very popular © Matthew Smith


RHP and their specialist consultants embarked on three years of rigorous analysis of defects and for solutions

The study area of an en suite set © Matthew Smith

Original plan

Refurbished layout An upper floor plan with (top) Powell and Moya’s plan of a typical staircase floor and (bottom) the plan of a typical refurbished floor with en-suite facilities inserted in each ‘set’ with separable study and sleeping areas © RHP

Just as famously, the asphalt terrace roof had to be replaced within 20 years, and a simple radiator system replaced the failed underfloor system. By 2002, it was the new work causing its own problems: the weight of the new roof deflected the slabs, the roof still leaked, and the new heating system had become costly to run while not providing real comfort. Despite maintenance, the facade elements and their junctions were degrading and safety legislation had forced the College to close access to the roof. When work began Cripps was not a listed building, though it was given Grade II* status in 2010. R H Partnership (RHP) and their specialist consultants embarked on three years of rigorous analysis of defects and for solutions that would achieve higher standards of comfort and environmental performance. They were asked to make as many rooms as possible into en-suites; to future-proof the services; and provide better and larger kitchens (achieved using the space vacated by some of the communal bathrooms). Unlike 5th Studio at Trinity, RHP did have access to some original technical drawings but, as both practices found, a sound outcome depends on the labour-intensive process of observation, dismantling, measuring, and recording. For example, 1000 bronze windows had to be examined to schedule repairs, options and work. To be successful most of the intervention of this sort must remain invisible, but at Cripps, RHP have left some significant marks. The spare elegance of the student rooms has been enhanced, the students praise the bright enlarged kitchens, and even the Conservation Officer was pleased with an ingenious handrail/seat-screen that once again allows enjoyment of the magnificent roof terrace.





Trinity’s New Court was part of the Universitywide building boom at the end of the Napoleonic War. Built by William Wilkins between 1823 and 1825 and Grade I Listed, it was described unkindly by one Master as ‘of no particular architectural merit’ (Trevelyan, G M ‘Trinity College, A History and Guide’, 1952 (rev. Robson, R 1980)). For Wilkins it was style that mattered. For a very standard Cambridge plan of staircases around a court he offered both Tudor-Gothic and Classical elevations. The College wisely selected Gothic, allowing for the irregularity and enhancement of the entrance archways and oriels, the deepening of the south range, and the economies of varying the facade materials: river fronts in stone, courts in Roman cement, and town-facing facades in brick. Unfortunately these variations in plan and section, compounded by some idiosyncratic setting out, meant that when 5th Studio began the project, they did not have the benefit of repetition in any situation or space. Trinity had maintained New Court well, but over almost 200 years the alterations had to accommodate bathrooms, services, and changes of room use, leaving Wilkins’ original plan almost unrecognisable. From 5th Studio, the College wanted ‘a sustainable approach to the retrofit of [their] historic estate’ and, significantly, to explore ‘the changing territory of heritage policy in relation to the climate change agenda.’ They wanted to make a significant contribution to the performance of what is a common building type in Cambridge. After three years of specialist research and monitoring, comprehensive proposals were put forward to the College. These were largely to make the case for a new and radical approach to this historic fabric – one that both served the needs of the College and occupants but put the environmental and climate change issue to the forefront. The building had suffered from dry rot, and the brickwork, which was founded at river level, drew water into the embedded timber. Windows were ill-fitting and internal shutters were inoperative. Precise technical modelling led to detailed analysis of alternative solutions,

The new lime render is coloured to match an original sample from a door moulding © Tim Soar



10 or 20 of which were required before being finally accepted. The internal veneered board wall linings on vapour-permeable insulation have given a new elegance and comfort to the rooms. The repositioned and operational internal window shutters, and the retained original windows with machine-drawn double glazing are effectively indistinguishable from their state in 1825. There are two forms of built-in monitoring: one of room occupancy that shuts down heating and power during prolonged absence, and one of fabric performance that will give the College early warning of any problems and should build up evidence for the


effectiveness of the approaches chosen. The overall strategy relies on sealing and insulating the fabric to the highest achievable standard before relying on any mechanical means. In this case the ‘mechanical’ methods are heat recovery ventilation with input from existing chimneys and fireplaces, and extract via staircases back to the heat exchangers. Room occupation and window opening are also electronically monitored. Eventually, the internal environment will be aided by a ground source heat pump – 20 100m deep boreholes beneath the court – to serve low-temperature underfloor heating, to be completed in the next phase.



1. Services lining allows for future adaption of services installations without damage to the historic fabric.

3 4

2. Underfloor heating with heat from a ground source heat pump. 3. Absence detectors turn down the room systems if a room is unoccupied for more than 24 hours. 1

4. Accessible service risers allow for future adaption of services installations. 5. Linkage in window frame cuts off room heating when window is opened during the heating season.

2 Combining building fabric upgrades with efficient service installations © 5th Studio


A ground source heat pump to serve lowtemperature underfloor heating will be completed in the next phase



SUMMATION Work on each of these renovation projects required enormous technical and analytical input and took approximately twice as long as the original construction periods so, prompted by Michael Brawne: who benefits? The improved internal comfort will be felt by occupants of both schemes, and at considerably reduced energy cost. With accessible but concealed and oversized routes for all primary and secondary services one hopes that until the next major renovation, ad hoc college installations will not intrude on the integrity of the restored rooms. ‘Restored’ is certainly the word: for the Cripps rooms, the changes have been subtle; for New Court, living spaces are much more altered. Of course all the historic detail has

Cripps: student bedsitting room with new and existing idigbo accessible paneling to accommodate services © Matthew Smith

Each of these renovation projects required enormous technical input

Paneled shower enclosure incorporating shelving and cupboards with height keyed to architraves and obscured glazing above © Tim Soar

The original windows, upgraded and doule glaxed, sit within insulated wall and the reinstated shutterbox reveal © Tim Soar

been retained with careful alignment but the feel is truly new and I welcome both that and the variety. Even unfurnished rooms felt welcoming and inhabited and for changing occupation that is a very positive achievement. I am left with a question provoked by Nicholas Taylor shortly after the completion of the Cripps building. “Let us also be clear that the attitude that created this building may also accelerate Cambridge’s decline.” (Taylor, N and Booth, P: Cambridge New Architecture 2nd ed, 1970 p46). This was written just after the Garden House riots of 1970 which predicted a major upheaval in the undergraduate way of life.

Whilst both these buildings have accommodated significant changes, issues around fees, debt, social media, distance learning and privatisation and indeed Brexit suggest that college building renovation may have to take a very different path if the University is to remain relevant to all applicants. The question is: how? Both projects have found skilful solutions that, particularly in the case of the older New Court, and similar to so many other college residential buildings, have wider applications. We need to find ways of making sure that the research and ideas will reach the widest audience.



© Boston Transportation Department

As part of the CAA’s ongoing activities to interrogate City Deal proposals, Mecanoo Architecten and Smarter Cambridge Transport’s Edward Leigh discuss how improvements might be made to the proposals WORDS ADAM PEAVOY, EDWARD LEIGH, DAVID ADAMS AND ZE’EV FEIGIS

In CA71, 5th Studio’s Kieran Perkins offered an alternative for the Milton Road proposals for the City Deal. This elicited some interest from some of the attendees of the Greater Cambridge City Deal’s (GCCD) Local Liaison Forums (LLFs) and the Tree Design Advisory Group (TDAG). Following lengthy discussions at the CAA’s July and August meetings, some of the CAA’s members attended the Forums. This culminated in the CAA issuing a letter to the Executive Board of the GCCD, which was also circulated in the press (and is reprinted on page 23 of this issue). The CAA has subsequently had some exciting

and interesting dialogue with the members of the City Deal. It isn’t the CAA’s place to be an active design partner, though it can (as the local Chapter of the RIBA) support and encourage the Board to act in the best interests of the local residents, to maximise the project’s potential.

behind the needs of the estimated 100,000 people currently driving into Cambridge every day. Local Plans for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire envisage 33,500 new homes and 45,000 new jobs in the region; developers are pushing for up to 38,000 new homes and 65,000 new jobs.

The challenge of growth Cambridge is growing: businesses are expanding and relocating into the region; house prices are sky-high, pushing lower-paid staff outside the city; and city roads are becoming heavily congested, with public transport lagging

What is it? The Greater Cambridge City Deal is a government grant of £20m/year until 2019, then potentially £40m/year until 2029. The money is for transport infrastructure in Cambridge and South



There is currently no coherent and aspirational vision

Cambridgeshire, and not for routine/ ongoing expenditure (repairing roads and footways) or subsidising public transport. Other money will also be channelled through the Greater Cambridge City Deal, such as Section 106 developer contributions and New Homes Bonuses (an annual government grant). There are currently about 11 schemes under consideration or in progress, ranging from new cycle and bus lanes, and new park and ride sites, to a journey planner app and a data hub. The map over the page shows the potential sites and schemes. So what’s all the fuss about? Various local groups and many individuals have expressed disquiet at the City Deal’s proposals and processes. This includes Smarter Cambridge Transport, the Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations, parish councils, Cambridge Past Present & Future, political groups, the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce and the Cambridge Association of Architects. Common concerns are that:: • Proposals lack a coherent and aspirational vision of what it will be like to live and work in the region in 2030. • Schemes are being progressed before the problems to be solved are fully understood. • Schemes appear to be considered in isolation, rather than holistically. • Many schemes seem to rely on old and outmoded ideas instead of the innovation Cambridge is known for. • Local knowledge has been largely overlooked. • Urban and landscape design expertise appears to be being treated as late-stage window dressing. A single-minded focus on traffic movements means that the social and heritage cost to

The Boston Complete Streets design guidelines are an example of considered strategies clearly communicated. For more information visit Images © Boston Transportation Department

communities will not be fully appreciated until too late. In the past this approach has created legacies of both ugly and orphaned public spaces: • Hills Road has lost many of its wide, green verges without gaining fully-protected cycle lanes. • Newmarket Road is by common acclaim the ugliest road in Cambridge, hostile to people cycling and walking. • East Road and Mitcham’s Corner are both congested by vehicles, with few trees and narrow, poorly-connected, shared-use pavements. • Madingley Road, at the new junction with the University of Cambridge North West Development, is a huge expanse of tarmac, designed first and foremost for motor vehicles. Conclusion The draft Local Plans and City Deal for Greater Cambridge will either enhance or damage Cambridge’s valuable global brand. With the balance of opinion fearing irreversible damage, it is imperative that the region’s politicians produce a clear, coherent and viable vision for the future of the region, where growth delivers more benefits than harm. Some of the key actions we would like the City Deal to undertake are: • Include urban and landscape design at a strategic level Each scheme should conform to a consistent city/regional identity. The design process should adapt to the needs, opportunities and

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constraints at a community level. • Make landscape a driver not an afterthought The design of City Deal transport projects should be influenced by local landscape opportunities and context. • Improve how public transport interchanges function The design, look and human experience of major interchanges, where different transport systems come together (such as Park & Ride sites), requires detailed consideration. • Contribute to the upgrade of local centres The City Deal should consider how to enhance public and open spaces that its schemes touch. • Use local expertise where required Local people, organisations, transport operators and users are all good sources of knowledge that can help avoid expensive mistakes. • Develop partnerships where necessary Work with rail companies, businesses and investors to realise strategic aims beyond the scope of the City Deal. Designing our city streets for people rather than for vehicles has great benefits for social inclusion and interaction, health and even wildlife habitats. Other cities across the world have changed their focus from car- to people-centric urban design, notably Groningen, Copenhagen, Freiburg and Boston. With so much social and technological change expected over the next two decades, Cambridge is perfectly placed to be a pioneering city. With far-sighted vision and leadership it could become the sustainable transport capital of the UK.



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IN THE PIPELINE ARE THE FOLLOWING SCHEMES (WHICH MAY CHANGE AS THE SITUATION EVOLVES): • Peak-time congestion control points: virtual bollards (as on Silver St) that only buses and taxis are permitted to pass when active. This proposal is still under consideration. • Workplace Parking Levy: an annual tax on staff parking places, to be paid by all but the smallest employers (the threshold is being debated). Expected to raise £7–11m for transport infrastructure. • On-street parking controls: more residents parking zones and other restrictions on commuter parking. • A new cycleway alongside the railway line (the Chisholm Trail) and various new cycle lanes in the city. • A new section of cycleway between Shepreth and Melbourn. • Bus and cycle lanes on Milton and Histon Roads. • Bus lanes and/or a busway and cycleway between Cambridge and Cambourne. • Bus lanes and/or a busway and cycleway between Cambridge and Haverhill. • A busway linking Madingley Road to Trumpington P&R and the Guided Busway to the Biomedical Campus. • A data hub for travel-related data, from bus movements to air quality. • A journey planner app. • A new P&R site at the A428-A1303 (‘Madingley Mulch’) roundabout.


© David Adams


Even the most casual Cambridge visitor will notice that a large amount of the city is of brick construction Furthermore, that the brick in question is generally a yellowish ‘Cambridge brick’. For Anne Cooper, the correct term is “Cambridge Gault” due to its local geological origin. And Anne Cooper knows a thing or two about bricks, as this abridged version of her essay for the Historic Buildings Course reveals WORDS ANNE COOPER

The term ‘Cambridge Gault’ brick is frequently misused to describe any buff, orange, yellow, grey, or white brick which loosely matches the genuine Gault bricks of creamy-white colour manufactured in Cambridge from the late 18th century until the Second World War. Analysing the Listing of buildings in Cambridge reveals the use of Gault brick generally started in the 1790s and continued until circa 18901 by which time white bricks were out of fashion and advances in manufacturing and transport meant that much more desirable red bricks were readily available. Unhampered by planning restrictions, Cambridge citizens demonstrated their wealth and status by building themselves substantial red brick mansions in amongst their now unfashionable 19th century Gault brick neighbours. Developers quickly caught on and faced their upmarket houses in red bricks,

whilst continuing to build high-density terraced housing in the cheap Gault bricks. Cambridge more or less quadrupled in size between 1900 and 2000. Apart from 1930s council housing, very little of this development was constructed in Gault bricks. Post the First World War, the new, wider tree-lined roads of semi-detached houses were faced in a mixture of red Rustic brick and pebble dash render. After the Second World War the wider brick selections were used extensively in Cambridge’s 1960s housing. Lime mortar Flemish bond walls gave way to cement mortar half-brick stretcher bond cavity walls, further changing the appearance of 20th century brickwork. Even though Gault bricks were still in production, their colour and association with unfashionable Victorian architecture resulted in alternative bricks being sourced for city centre


The differing appearance of restored and weathered Cambridge Gault brick © Anne Cooper


The “Accordia Effect” in Cambridge © Anne Cooper

The city’s “Gault brick” buildings… are one aspect of a 1000 year history and should be protected but never aped redevelopments such as the 1936-9 and 1946-8 rebuilding of the Guildhall using a brown brick2. This trend for dramatic changes in style, construction techniques and urban planning continued up until the late 1980s. However, the demolition of large swathes of historic Cambridge for projects such as the Grafton Centre resulted in outrage and organised opposition within the city and, along with the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990, tipped the balance in favour of conserving the historic environment. Ignoring the fact that Gault bricks were by now no longer made, and that their appearance had changed due to pollution and the passage of time, city planners began to insist that new developments should ‘match’ the original appearance of the Gault bricks when they were new. This led to the use of a variety of matching bricks sourced from overseas, a requirement that was applied unilaterally across the city, including areas with no indigenous Gault brick buildings. Conservation legislation has helped save buildings and raise awareness but it is misguided to encourage developers to

mimic 19th century buildings: this approach is retrograde and leads to an homogenisation of the cityscape. For example, the University Arms Hotel is currently replacing the 1970s brown brick frontage with a pseudo-Victorian extension. I believe this to be deceitful architecture and poor conservation. The University Arms Hotel is joining the Hilton Cambridge City Centre Hotel in employing ‘Disney Classicism’3, to pander to the perceived aesthetic sensibilities of the average Cambridge tourist4. We need to accept that the use of other materials is appropriate and possible. The city’s

Gault brick buildings should be respected for their contribution to the cityscape; but they are one aspect of a 1000 year history and should be protected but never aped. Conservation policy should foster a more sympathetic approach to redevelopment within the City centre, allowing the city to move forward with appropriate material selections in an environmentally responsible way. Planners need to encourage imaginative solutions, and refuse Disney-style reproduction architecture, where arbitrary choices of material signal a cosmetic understanding of building construction. Cambridge needs to find a new expression and strong 21st century identity. other than at Fen Court, Peterhouse designed by Hughes and Bicknell 1939-40 2 – the bricks are described as being “grey” in the listing. 3 Jones, David: Hideous Cambridge: a city mutilated, p92 4 “In Cambridge we are aiming to create something with timeless appeal; architecture that honours the traditions and creates an aura that is present in so much of the historic architecture in the city”. John Simpson, Architect; 1

Park Terrace presents an idiosyncratic view of Cambridge brick © Anne Cooper




Get creative for a chance to win three months’ membership at The Glassworks Health Club

Cambridge is a city full of incredible historic and contemporary architecture, but what exactly makes it such a special place to live and work? When thinking about the context of Cambridge, it is impossible not to think of the River Cam and the role that it has played across the centuries. We want to celebrate Cambridge and its eponymous river, and what better way to do that than with a creative competition? One lucky winner will receive three months’ membership at The Glassworks Health Club located by the river at Quayside. With a fully equipped gym and spa at your fingertips you can get fit and feel pampered right in the heart of the city. Plus The Glassworks will throw in three personal training sessions with one of their skilled fitness experts! For a chance to win, submit an image using any media you wish that reflects the relationship between the city and river to The winner and shortlisted entries will be published in the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of Cambridge Architecture. Terms and conditions can be viewed on our website

For a chance to win, submit an image that reflects the relationship between Cambridge and the river to by 31 March 2017.


© Tom Foggin



CITY DEAL LETTER All you need to know about the CAA’s letter to the Executive Board and why it’s so important

On 1 September, the CAA sent a letter to the Executive Board of the Greater Cambridge City Deal. It elicited a response both in the local news and from the Board itself. Prompted in addition by an article in CA71, the CAA is glad to see greater levels of dialogue occuring. To this end, the CAA hopes to assist in improving the public understanding of, and the GCCD approach to, the planning of this project of such tremendous importance to Cambridge.

Opposite is the City Deal letter as sent on 1 September


TO THE GREATER CAM I E CIT EAL E ECUTIVE BOARD CLL LEWIS HE E T (CHAI ) Leader of Cambridge City Council CLLR FRANCIS BURKITT (VICE CHAI ) Greater Cambridge City Deal Portfolio Holder, South Cambridgeshire District Council CLL IAN ATES (CHAI ) Economy & Environment Committee, Cambridgeshire County Council PROFESSOR NIGEL SLATER Pro-Vice Chancellor for Enterprise and Regional Affairs at the University Cambridge MA EEVE (TEM O A ) Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership

Royal Institute of British Architects

Cambridge Association of Architects A branch of RIBA East, The Studio, High Green, Great Shelford, Cambridge, CB22 5EG

Greater Cambridge City Deal Design Quality Leadership

1 September 2016

Honourable members of the Executive Board, The Cambridge Association of Architects (CAA) is the local chapter of the RIBA in Cambridgeshire, a charity which is comprised of local professionals who work and live in Cambridge and the region. We warmly support the principle of the Greater Cambridge City Deal, and acknowledge the need to improve the region’s infrastructure to secure future prosperity for the people of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. We recognise that significant infrastructure improvements can potentially have a positive impact on improving housing provision, skills development and supporting economic growth. However, we have serious concerns over the impact that the currently proposed schemes, particularly for Milton Road and Histon Road, are likely to have on (a) the cohesion of the city’s communities and (b) on the quality of the city’s public realm. The CAA believe that the City Deal process is missing opportunities to improve both of these by attempting to make decisions too early, without giving sufficient consideration to design quality in the critical early feasibility stages. Moreover, that the City Deal process is squandering a major opportunity to improve the infrastructure, public realm and place-making potential in key areas of the city by focusing solely on engineering solutions to a partially formed and narrow brief. The greatest likelihood is that it will repeat the mistakes of the past and create unloved, and under-utilised spaces that fail to live up to the promise of the City Deal. In recent months we have been observing the development of the infrastructure design process, and have completed written submissions and participated in Local Liaison Forum consultations. Furthermore, we have featured several references to the GCCD in our bi-annual publication Cambridge Architecture Gazette, extracts of which are attached for reference. Some of our commentary has attracted a great deal of attention in local news and on social media. We agree that priority should be given to pedestrians, bikes and public transport over individual car borne transport into the city, and that congestion must be reduced. However, the CAA has serious concerns that the process is being pushed forward without adequate regard for the wider impact the proposals will have on the urban fabric; and without a suitably qualified design team with a brief to develop coherent, considered proposals that challenge and respond to the initial engineering objectives. These concerns can be described in two broad areas: communities and design quality. Considering communities, it is clear that there is much opposition to the current bus corridor proposals. The CAA believe that solely focusing on infrastructure in the narrow scope of roads, pavements and cycle lanes, misses a wider opportunity to improve the quality of the city and to provide consequential benefit to local residents on affected roads. We wish to see the city hold a stronger aspiration to improve our streets and communities, as these assets affect, and support, the future growth of the city in equal measure to traffic movement. This process should be positive for local as well and city wide and regional communities. Considering design quality, it is clear that there has been very little thought as to the quality of the design for City Deal corridors beyond traffic data improvement and very simplistic rule of thumb widths for road cross sections. It may be a challenge to place trees on streets, but it is essential in a city that famously embraces its rural-urban balance. As experienced consultants we are often asked to challenge the brief and find solutions that balance the competing demands of numerous stakeholders with different ambitions, in order to develop creative solutions or at least informed compromises to such complex challenges. It is essential for the city that infrastructure design is considered in a broad multi-disciplinary design team at the earliest possible opportunity, not just by road engineers. Therefore, the Cambridge Association of Architects now call on the City Deal Executive Board to: 1. Make good on the City Deal mission statement which observes that Cambridge “is an attractive place and… a good place for business leaders and their families to live, not just a good place to do business.” which suggests a broader definition of city infrastructure including the public realm, streets, parks and squares, building on the long lasting qualities of our city; 2. Broaden the discussion beyond road, bike and pavement infrastructure to include public space, materials palettes for Cambridge streets, and community benefits (i.e. seek opportunities for consequential benefit of the capital expenditure of the City Deal beyond traffic data); 3. Make sure that all commissioned studies completed on road design will be multi-disciplinary to include urban designers and landscape architects with relevant experience of infrastructure as well as road engineers; 4. Appoint an experienced design champion who will provide a wider unifying approach between disciplines and challenge textbook engineering assumptions of road design; 5. Utilise the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel to review and guide the City Deal on street design; 6. Implement immediate change to improve the design quality leadership currently exhibited in the process. We would be happy to discuss how we, as an organisation can assist the City Deal Executive Board with achieving these goals. Yours Sincerely, The Cambridge Association of Architects GCCD Committee For and on behalf of the Cambridge Association of Architects



Light rail vehicle in Nottingham © Colin Harris


GREENPRINT FOR A SUSTAINABLE CITY Dr Colin Harris‚ Director at Environmental Research & Assessment‚ calls for a new solution for Cambridge transport‚ driven by electric light rail WORDS DR COLIN M HARRIS

Cambridge is witnessing phenomenal and unprecedented economic expansion and population growth. Between 2011 and 2031 the population of the greater Cambridge region is projected to increase by ~120 000 people. We are facing some of our greatest challenges. There are pressing needs for more housing and effective transport links in the city‚ and safeguards for the unique and outstanding heritage‚ environment‚ and quality of life in Cambridge from these pressures have never been more needed. Given the scale of this challenge‚ it is vital that solutions encompass long-term vision. Cambridge Connect is a new initiative promoting light rail as an enduring and sustainable solution to the serious congestion problems facing Cambridge. Working closely

with Railfuture and UK Tram‚ we promote solutions that maintain and enhance the outstanding environmental and heritage values of the city and employ practical‚ well-tested technologies that are fit for purpose for Cambridge in the 21st century. Cambridge Connect believe in a multimodal approach to public transport‚ involving light rail‚ heavy rail‚ private vehicles‚ buses‚ bicycles and walking‚ could provide a radical and long-term solution for Cambridge that is both scalable in terms of capacity and extendible to future destinations as demand and finances allow. Cambridge light rail: the Isaac Newton Line We propose a light rail route extending over ~22km to meet priority public transport needs


within Cambridge City and the immediate area. Extending from the Girton Interchange to Granta Park; via the University’s west campus‚ the city centre‚ Cambridge Central Rail Station‚ Addenbrooke’s‚ Great Shelford and Sawston‚ and with a short spur extending to Trumpington and a new Park & Ride. The route was selected following research and an option study involving experts and the public‚ and is designed to connect with key roads‚ national rail‚ major employment hubs‚ and residential areas. The network would follow existing and former rail routes‚ run underground within the historic city core‚ and follow the busway between Cambridge central rail station and Addenbrooke’s. The line would have its own dedicated track‚ completely separate from cars and would not run on streets. Extensions


to residential and employment areas, such as the Science Park, Fulbourn, Cambourne and Haverhill, are also possible. Park & Ride and intercity coaches We propose a new Intercity coach station co-located with a Park & Ride on the M11 near Hauxton to allow coach passengers to transfer onto the light rail, giving the choice of any stop on the network and only 15 minutes to the city centre. This would reduce city congestion and help bus operators remain punctual. Park & Rides linked to the network would be established at the Girton Interchange and Granta Park‚ while the one on Newmarket Road should be moved closer to the A14. Greenprint for a sustainable city When complete‚ the city network would comprise ~43km of light rail track with 8km underground. The 36 stops on this network would be on average ~1km apart‚ the European standard for city light rail‚ resulting in over 90% of the built-up area of Cambridge and villages nearby lying within an 18-minute walk‚ or less than an eight-minute cycle‚ of a stop. We propose a fully electric network because it is powered with zero emissions at street level‚ is energy efficient‚ transports more people per hour while occupying less space than buses‚ and is fast‚ reliable‚ safe‚ comfortable‚ and potentially very frequent. On dedicated lines‚ the vehicles can operate autonomously‚ similar to the Docklands Light Railway. All of these attributes make light rail a quality and more sustainable public transport system that people are likely to want to use. This network has the potential to transform people’s travel decisions‚ and encourages them to choose to walk or cycle to their nearest stop for longer journeys on public transport. For this reason we call our plan a ‘greenprint for a sustainable city’‚ recognising fully our need to reduce carbon emissions and our responsibility to build more sustainable cities. The investment Preliminary work and comparisons with other similar schemes in France and the UK indicate the Isaac Newton Line would cost approximately £500–800 million. By comparison‚ the Nottingham NET light rail

Diagrams © Cambridge Connect

network cost in the order of £850 million to develop. We recognise that Cambridge light rail would require investment and commitment‚ however we believe light rail and tunneling should be seriously considered to address long-term needs in Cambridge. Sustainable transport strategies should take into account the need to protect the historic‚ architectural and landscape values of Cambridge which are of outstanding global importance. There is a need to connect the three main University campuses (West‚ Central

and Biomedical) to ensure vibrant crossdisciplinary interactions are maintained‚ vital to Cambridge’s continued academic leadership. Effective interconnections are also critical to business. The Cambridge Connect proposals are designed to achieve these objectives; it is difficult to escape the conclusion that a modern‚ fast‚ reliable light rail network with an underground in the historic city core would be the best sustainable and practical option. Read the full version of this article at



© Matt Plummer

© Ed Todd

OF FIRE I first encountered the term “charrette” whilst studying in France as part of a student exchange programme; my colleagues painted a romantic picture of medieval Parisian architects running through the cobbled streets pushing carts, or charettes, loaded with submissions for a design competition for King Louis XIII, shouting “charrette!” to warn others out of their way, as they rushed to submit their work. Whatever the true origin of the word, today we often talk of a charrette as the period of work leading up to a deadline, when the sparks of creativity are brightest and designers talk in the studio or share ideas over a coffee (or something a little stronger). Often the greatest work comes out of discussion: concepts evolve through development and refinement, and even Eureka moments are often ideas that have been brewing intangibly in the background until a conversation or confrontation crystallises it. Steven Johnson refers to the “liquid network” of innovation1 which comes about from conversing with our contemporaries. In the context of Cambridge, I wonder if we have lost the art of the charrette. In this period of unprecedented investment there are numerous projects focusing on infrastructure, congestion relief, housing, research and


R H Partnership’s Tom Foggin explains that we shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box‚ and talk about our ideas

healthcare campuses, yet there appears to be a distinct absence of open creative discourse. At RHP we hold sessions every Friday to encourage members of the studio to broaden their horizons, with discussion topics ranging from technical aspects of breather membrane detailing to wider conversations about the impact of, for example, the City Deal investment. Following the publication of the Mitcham’s Corner SPD and public consultation we ran a small charrette to develop ideas for this critically undervalued area of the city where traffic dominates. In a short time, concepts evolved ranging from sustainable public transport networks and affordable housing, to pushing the ring road underground, creating new public plazas and pedestrian bridges to Jesus Green. Charrettes offer opportunities to talk freely, propose concepts and build ideas together in a way which is not always possible when working alone. Not every idea will be practical or technically feasible, but there is no way to tell without exploring it, and talking through an idea with others often leads to something even better. Architects and other design professionals are trained to solve problems and find solutions to complex challenges. Just imagine, if creative

professionals were invited to a charrette encompassing the whole city with the kind of budget currently on the table, what could we achieve in Cambridge? Steven Johnson, S. 2010, Where Good Ideas Come From, video recording, TED, viewed 10 September 2016, johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from


© David Ward

FURTHER READING Where Good Ideas Come From Mitcham’s corner SPD



MCMM ARCHITETTURA CAMBRIDGE VILLA Located in central Cambridge, the villa is made to a high level of specification and has striking modern architecture. Inside, large windows and a fluid open-plan space has been reinterpreted and designed by MCMM Architettura. The vibrant decor and interiors incorporate bespoke Italian furniture and extraordinary lighting. Ad hoc design for each of the rooms gives flexibility but clear identity. It was a great result for MCMM and, most importantly, for the client! Interiors include Artemide and Foscarini lighting, B&B Italia and Roche Bobois furniture, Zoffany paint, and Colefax & Fowler wallpaper.

These projects have been selected by RIBA members who are actively involved with the Cambridge Association of Architects. If you’re interested in featuring on this page of the next edition of Cambridge Architecture please contact

R H PARTNERSHIP HUGHES HALL GRADUATE ACCOMMODATION COMPLETE R H Partnership won the design competition led by Hughes Hall in 2013 to design graduate accommodation on Gresham Road. The resultant building is now complete with the first students moved in. Located on the edge of Fenner’s cricket ground‚ the building’s form‚ aspect‚ and materials were selected in careful response to the surrounding context. The 85 rooms with ancillary spaces are arranged into apartments of six to ten bedrooms, with shared kitchen/dining facilities, around a central garden court which creates landscape views for students and opens up public views from the adjacent street to the cricket grounds and college buildings.


Margaret Reynolds RIBA has recently been working on an eco retrofit of a two-bedroom semi-detached house with an extension to include a further bedroom, home office and a woodworking workshop. Work has included shadow casting for planners, Passivhaus Planning Package analysis, CarbonLite Retrofit Certification evidence checklists, the project being logged on the Low Energy Buildings database, and currently deciding AECB reduction target. The project is currently being negotiated through planning approval. © R H Partnership

© Margaret Reynolds



COWPER GRIFFITH ARCHITECTS A CONTEMPORARY HOUSE ON THE NORFOLK COAST Cowper Griffith Architects have recently completed a new house on the Norfolk coast. The design is contemporary, but draws upon the traditional form and materials of the many rows of terraced cottages with their gables towards the sea that are found along the Norfolk coast. The main part of the five-bedroom house therefore has a traditional, long and narrow form, with the addition of a contemporary bay on the east side to give the width needed for the accommodation. A second structure appears visually separated, offset behind the house. The entrance leads off a courtyard on the south side into the main living space, with sliding doors opening out onto terraces. Internal doors slide into the walls, and wide board floors and clean cut stone add to the minimal aesthetic. Externally the house is built of a narrow brick with bands of flint work, hardwood cladding, terned stainless steel, and black glazed pantiles. Perforated brickwork over the landing fenestration balances the main west elevation and filters the wide views from within. Extensive gardens lead down to a minimalist studio on the shore.

© Peter Cook

MART BARRASS ARCHITECT NEW ECO HOUSE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE MBA has submitted concept proposals for a new house in the country. The design is conceived as a plough and furrow cutting into the edge of an arable field. The plan incorporates energysaving principles and is arranged around a Trombe wall which utilises passive solar gain to heat the space. A central linear ventilation ‘chimney’ pulls air across an external lap pool for cooling. The upside down design provides open-plan living at ground level with panoramic views to the landscape set over cellular bedrooms on the lower level. The floors are connected by a cylindrical stair which cantilevers over a circular hydro pool up to a rooftop stargazing dome.


DPA ARCHITECTS POTTING SHED DPA Architects Ltd were commissioned by Jesus College to design a new potting shed to replace one currently located some distance from the colleges glasshouses. This would serve the gardeners and improve the planting process and productivity within the College. Due to the sensitive nature of the Fellows’ Gardens, a more sculptural approach was adopted when designing the structure. The shed is constructed from corten steel which will weather over time and is roofed in sedum to portray an upturned plant pot. The circular layout responds to the in/out process of repotting the plants before they are moved from one glasshouse to another. The corten is weathering well and should be well and truly rusty in the next few months! This work is part of a wider and extensive refurbishment programme DPA are currently involved with on behalf of Jesus College.

© Mart Barrass (image: Archia CG)




It is Awards Season throughout the architectural world. Whilst the UK Industry applauds the winners of the Stirling Prize and the President’s Medals, Cambridge and RIBA East award local students with a prize or two for their hard work throughout the year WORDS DAVID ADAMS

The CAA and RIBA East have been attending prize-giving ceremonies over the summer‚ celebrating the work of local students. The two prizes for Cambridge, the CAA Student Prize and the RIBA East Student Awards‚ were awarded at Cambridge University Department of Architecture’s End of Year Show at the Barge House in London. The CAA Student Prize was awarded to Luka Pajovic, on the strength of his portfolio work. Dr James Campbell accepted the prize on Luka’s behalf, as Luka was in Rome, travelling and studying at the time. Luka describes two of the pieces illustrated here. “Trajan’s Markets is the ultimate example of an urban megaform offering the possibility of future growth and development without loss of its formal and functional integrity. The view of a proposed building from Rye Lane (Peckham), has a sense of rootedness and

topographic scale that permeates the public “plinth” integrated with the existing railway infrastructure and stands in stark contrast with the skeletal, calculated and seemingly inaccessible upper register." RIBA East Student Awards The annual RIBA East Student Awards programme showcases the talents of outstanding architectural students in the east of England, whose work has been selected as the best in their year. The programme invites submissions from all architectural students in the east, not just those studying on RIBAvalidated courses. The other 2016 recipients were Bianca Baidoo, from Anglia Ruskin University‚ and Rafael Viegas Ramos, from Norwich University of the Arts. One of the RIBA East Student Award Winners for 2016 is Dominic Edwards from Cambridge University’s

© Dominic Edwards

© Dominic Edwards

Department of Architecture. He received his prize for the highest marks in Year 3 for studio/ portfolio work and for joint top marks in his dissertation (with distinction).

View Structural Duality © Luka Pajovic

Louise Todd Todd, Director of RIBA East said: RIBA East is thrilled to acknowledge the outstanding work of architectural students at the start of their careers, who share a passionate interest in architecture and the built environment Functions © Luka Pajovic



© Chris Chudleigh

SPONSOR INTERVIEW In this issue, we speak with Andrew Drummond of R H Partnership Architects What is RHP’s relationship to Cambridge? Cambridge has been our home for over 40 years, and whilst we have studios in Brighton and London, we have grown and evolved as a practice in this city. We have had the opportunity to work with both exciting young innovators and established educators, from early work on the St John’s Innovation Centre and Park to restoration and conservation projects, on historic buildings and 20th Century listed buildings like Powell & Moya’s Cripps Building. What recent, current or upcoming projects are you most proud of or excited about? Locally‚ it has to be the upcoming completion of our work on the University’s North West Cambridge development. We were one of the original teams of architects selected in an international competition to create it. It’s taken four years and a great team effort with 33 people in the practice directly involved‚ from a few hours to many thousands of hours. The scaffolding came down recently so excitement is building!

We need to be empowered to work together, collaborate, and exchange ideas

What, in your view, is so special about Cambridge? Cambridge is different. Whilst there are poor-quality buildings like Castle Court or streetscapes like Newmarket Road and East Road lacking the quality we are accustomed to, Cambridge is ‘complete’ in many ways. I’m still surprised to visit other towns or cities and see vacant lots or disused buildings at the heart of communities. There is potential to heal those wounds and make a difference to those residents, but we’re just not used to that living and working in Cambridge. What is your favourite place or building in the city? I’ve been fortunate to work on some of the best 20th-century buildings in the city over the last 20 years – Powell & Moya’s Cripps at St John’s, Chamberlin, Powell & Bon’s underrated and glorious Murray Edwards College and the iconic toast-rack structure of the Napp building on the Science Park, so my ‘favourite’ building is constantly changing! If I had to pick one this week that I really like, I’d choose Caruso St John’s Heong gallery at Downing – it’s a small but perfectly formed creative reuse project.

integrated transportation, employment and housing issues that current and future residents face – affordability, location and availability. There are organisations across the city doing great work offering interesting solutions, but maybe there are too many small groups so their impact is limited and too easily dismissed by those in power, or those holding the purse strings. The city is full of creatives and innovators, we need to be empowered to work together, collaborate, and exchange ideas. The city needs to dream big! What sort of built environment or society do you foresee in the Cambridge of the future? We need to work hard to avoid Cambridge being sterilised or strangled by its own educational and technical innovation and successes. Cities need a diversity of people, employment, education, and an opportunity to thrive. Cambridge has the right ingredients but we need to be careful not to become a victim of our own success.

If you had the power, what would you improve in Cambridge? We need a long-term creative and achievable vision for Cambridge and the region, a vision that openly and creatively addresses


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