The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Photo © John East
Photo © John East
Photo © John East

100 Buildings 100 Years

2008: Accordia Housing, Cambridge

Type: Housing
Architect: Fielden Clegg Bradley (masterplan and lead architects) with Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects
Location: Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge, CB2 8DL

The site was once the landscaped grounds of Brooklands House, now the local office of English Heritage, which were subsequently developed with temporary government buildings during the Second World War. A re-development brief by Cambridge City Council evolved into a masterplan that gained planning permission in 2003. Construction started immediately and was essentially completed in 2008.

The design used a pale brick similar to the traditional Cambridge Gault brick. The buildings achieved a high density in clusters of 65 with courtyards and roof terraces instead of gardens. Between them, full use is made of the mature landscape for communal open space. Described as ‘high-density housing at its very best’, the scheme has won a dozen awards including the 2008 RIBA Stirling Prize, the first for a housing development.

In 2014, following a detailed appraisal, the boundary of the Brooklands Avenue Conservation Area was extended to include the Accordia development. This is perhaps a unique example of a scheme going from ‘new’ to ‘heritage’ in less than a decade.

by Chezel Bird and Eddie Booth

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