Located at the gateway to Cambridge University’s exceptionally ambitious North West Cambridge Development, Alison Brooks Architects’ S3 residential quarter builds on the paradigm of the 19th century warehouse and offers a new concept of sustainable urban living.
Lofts, warehouses and mills are today seen as ideal structures for contemporary lifestyles. Spacious, adaptable, sturdy and pragmatic, warehouses now accommodate everything from artists’ studios, to tech companies, to restaurants, to hotels and apartments. They imply communities with shared interests and a sense of place that grows out of building for the long term.
ABA’s 186-unit S3 scheme consists of five robust, S and L-planned adaptable buildings that create a distinctive urban edge to the new Green Corridor wetland landscape beyond. Between each building intimate courts act as urban thresholds, interlocking with south facing gardens to overlook and embrace the landscape. Covered cycle store pavilions act as a threshold to each court, their filigreed metal screens referring to the famous metal balustrades of St. John’s College First Court.
Cambridge is a community where chance encounters between academics, professionals, students and business people create a unique blend of creative and intellectual life. Our scheme offers a communal ‘working foyers’ that open on to the south facing courtyards. These street and garden facing foyers will enable informal co-working or large gatherings for residents.
Cambridge has the highest rate of bicycle usage in the UK, but few homes offer cycle parking that is easy and pleasant to use. S3 aims to lead the way by putting cycling at its core, offering inhabitants three choices: A large volume of cycle storage is provided in the basement, but recognising that many people prefer to bring their bikes into their homes, this is enabled by wide corridors and bike storage space in the apartments. For more short-term use, porticoes at thresholds of entrance courts provide accessible and convenient sheltered racks for visitors.
The five buildings have been designed to have a palette of materials that reflects the concept of Lofts, with robustness and permanence. Glazed bricks subtly change colour from east to west from pastel green, turquoise, light blue to silver-grey, giving each building a strong identity. Repetition of façade components and rationally distributed windows across the façades, give an overall sense of unity and evoke mill building typologies. Inflected rooflines of the five buildings will create dramatic living spaces and combine to reflect Cambridgeshire’s gently undulating landscape.
S3 will signify a unique new urban character for North West Cambridge’s southern fringe that has diversity, adaptability and cycling based urban living at its heart.