University Key Worker Housing, University of Cambridge, UK
The North West Cambridge Development (NWCD) transforms a 150-hectare site of University of Cambridge farmland into a community with residential buildings, academic facilities, public amenities and open green space. Mecanoo worked alongside NWCD to deliver 232 affordable housing units for researchers and key university employees.
Cambridge is a city contextualised through the layering of architectural inventions over the centuries. This has resulted in a unique composition of urban space, architecture and landscape. Mecanoo’s design adds a new layer to this, building upon the rich traditions and collegiate character of Cambridge.
Public – private
To create a strong sense of community the relation between the public and private realm has been carefully reconsidered. The characteristic Cambridge variation of enclosed and open spaces, alternating between formal and informal groupings of buildings, is a departure point for the design that activates the courtyards and creates different connections between the dwellings and the communal area.
The two internal courtyards with lawn, flower fields, raised decks, planters, fruit trees and urban furniture are sheltered by galleries forming covered outside community spaces. Apartments are grouped around spacious central halls flooded with daylight, all leading to the courtyards.
Photos: Mecanoo and Greg Holmes