North West Cambridge

Proposals for the first phase of residential development the University of Cambridge urban extension

Key Facts

  • Location: Cambridge
  • Client: Human Nature with Development Securities for the University of Cambridge
  • Collaborators: FCBStudios, Mole, 5thStudio, Schulze+Grassov, AKT11, Atelier Ten, RGCarter, The Future Customer, Savills, Aecom
  • Status: fully-costed and appraised plan with construction strategy
  • Size: 250 homes, restaurant, community facility, studios and exhibition spaces  


A competition, by invitation, with partners, Development Securities (now U+I), to be the developer for the first phase of the prestigious NWCambridge urban extension. Designed together with three architects with strong Cambridge roots – including Sterling Prize-winning FeildenCleggBradley Studios, –  and our engineers Atelier Ten, the scheme sought to create a distinctive and characterful place that felt like Cambridge but with a Scandinavian sensibility, with courtyard blocks, bike culture and productive urban landscape. 

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Project Principles 

Variety within a code: Studies of Cambridge patterns, colours and textures informed the aesthetic, which strived to be modern and fresh. The orthogonal framework plan was inherited from Aecom. The three architectural practices delivered a design that while cohesive nevertheless benefited from a good deal of diversity and personality. 

Courtyard blocks: Scandinavian-style courtyard blocks were a mainstay of the plan. The homes enjoyed small private back gardens that led onto a shared garden space with play areas, BBQ pits, community orchard and greenhouse. 

Code Level 5: The highest level but one in the former Code for Sustainable Homes: a demanding brief achieved with the help of outstanding environmental engineers, Atelier Ten. 

Potato rows: The Scandinavian influence inspired by the famous Potato Row housing in Copenhagen. These beautiful streets encourage safe play, interaction between families in the homes and generally pleasing dimensions.