North West Cambridge, a major new development by the University of Cambridge on University-owned farmland to the north west of Cambridge, will both create an extension to the city and assist in supporting the long term growth of the university, competing as it does against the other Cambridge in Massachusetts, USA. The £1 billion investment, which will be carried out in a number of phases, is the largest such development in the university’s history.
Outline planning permission for the masterplan developed by Aecon was granted in February 2013. Proposals for the first phase were given planning approval last year and proposals have been submitted for the next phases. This mixed-use campus will ultimately provide 1,500 homes for university key workers, accommodation for 2,000 postgraduate students, 1,500 homes for sale, 100,000 sq m of research facilities and a local centre with a primary school, community centre, health centre, supermarket, hotel and shops.
Working to the approved masterplan, Cambridge University has employed several firms of architects for the different buildings including Wilkinson Eyre, Mecanoo, Stanton Williams , Marks Barfield and MUMA ,with landscaping by Townshend. The first detailed approval was granted in December 2013 for a 320-bed student residence designed by RH Partnership. This next phase includes 120 key worker homes, a supermarket, energy centre, community centre and nursery. Key worker and other housing by Mecanoo and Maccreanor Lavington working with Witherford Watson Mann are expected to come forward in the spring. The architecture so far is quite restrained; it would be nice to see something slightly different as would be the case in a city; several of the architects have the potential to provide this sparkle.
Roger Taylor, project director of the North West Cambridge Development, says:
“The university has been working with the master planners and 11 architectural teams to create a new, cohesive urban extension to Cambridge….Through this collaborative approach, the architectural proposals are reflective of the characteristics of the city, integrating high-quality buildings with green open space, which will set the foundations for a dynamic and balanced community.”
In January, the Department for Education confirmed support for the application by the University to establish a University Training School at primary level as part of the development.
It will be a worthwhile project to watch as it develops to create a new urban community.