Cambridge University

Providing a community of 3,000 homes for university key workers, post-graduate students and local people

Product Summary

  • External cladding to Lot 3/Mecanoo’s student accommodation blocks – 120m2 of 20mm granite cladding, secret-fixed with structural adhesive onto blockwork
  • External cladding to entrances of Lots 1 (Mole/Wilkinson Eyre) and 3 (Mecanoo) student accommodation blocks – 300m2 of AMS’ 2mm PPC aluminium tray panels in various colours, mechanically secret fixed
  • Entrance canopies to supermarket, healthcare centre and Mole/Wilkinson Eyre’s duplexes – 200m2 of AMS’ 2mm PPC aluminium tray panels canopy coverings in various colours, fixed to lightweight steel frame
  • Pre-fabricated window and door pods (some perforated) to Lot 3/Mecanoo’s student accommodation blocks – 400 of AMS’ 3mm PPC aluminium fabricated window surrounds (RAL 9010) with galvanised steel formers fixed to RC frame
  • Features and copings to supermarket and Lot 1/Wilkinson Eyre/Mole’s duplexes – 1,000 linear metres of bespoke 2mm PPC aluminium feature sections in various profiles and colours

Client Comment

“With regard to AMS, I found them very easy and at the same time professional to work with. The product supplied was first class, as was the measuring and delivery service. They were very helpful and quick to sort out any minor issues. I would have no reservations whatsoever in recommending them.”

Andy Colby, Contracts Manager at Kingston Joinery (who installed the Lot 1 window pods)

Project Introduction

The North West Cambridge Development, known as Eddington, is an extension to the city of Cambridge to provide a community of 3,000 homes for university key workers, post-graduate students and local people.
The development is one of the most significant capital projects the university has ever undertaken in its 810-year history and delivers affordable housing for university staff, post-graduate students and local people, as well as research buildings and a plethora of community facilities.

Contemporary-styled high-quality facilities within Lots 1 and 3 include a health centre, estates offices and Energy Centre serving the whole scheme, around which are sited 117 key worker duplex apartments designed by Wilkinson Eyre in collaboration with Mole Architects.

Buildings are generically constructed of concrete frame with various brick claddings, composite windows and hardwood timber glazed screens by BAM Construction, the main contractor for Lots 1 and 3, over four years.

Lot 1
Lot 1 comprised a total floor area of 19,792m2 and included 8,513m2 of residential (the one and two-bedroomed duplexes), a 3,689m2 supermarket, 1,664m2 energy centre serving the entire masterplan site, 77m2 primary healthcare centre, 204m2 estates office and 4,896m2 underground car park.

The Lot 1 brief was for a mixed-use scheme to form a central part of the North West Cambridge Development. This has been sustainably driven throughout, with all residential units designed to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 standards and all non-residential areas to BREEAM Excellent.This means the development has net zero carbon regulated loads and all units will also be Lifetime Homes compliant.

Lot 1 at the heart of the scheme is key to the development of the successful community. The complex mix of uses has been carefully co-ordinated to ensure their successful functional integration while creating positive architectural character and identity.

The duplex residential blocks were arranged to wrap the service areas and large-scale elevations of the supermarket and energy centre, providing varied residential block typologies and active street frontages.

Mole Architects worked with Wilkinson Eyre on the L-shaped duplex building wrapping the energy centre that also contains the healthcare facility. Their design was carried out within the context of the approved outline permission and design code by masterplanners Aecom.

A robust process was adopted by the university for both design review and cost reporting to ensure the project was aligned with the whole development in both planning and cost. A 120-year design life was part of the sustainable element of the brief.

Lot 3
Mecanoo worked alongside the University and BAM on Lot 3 to deliver an additional 232 affordable key worker housing units which face the Mole/Wilkinson Eyre housing across a street at one point.

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 courtyard spaces, creating a direct connection between the dwellings and open spaces. Galleried units surround two courtyards, with the access galleries forming outside community living rooms where inhabitants might meet and interact.

This part of the development also features corner buildings and a spine building that runs through the heart of the site. In these buildings the units are grouped around spacious central halls that connect back to the courtyards and are flooded with daylight via glass lanterns.

Technical Information

Working to the brief provided by BAM’s design team, AMS were tasked with developing bespoke finishes that provided functional performance to much of the scheme’s buildings fabric.

  • The design aspects critical to achieving Code Level 5 related to daylight and fabric energy efficiency standards (FEES). Achieving FEES requires the avoidance of thermal bridging.  The architectural characteristics meant that each junction and window in Lot 1 – and there were almost 700 window pods – was almost unique and had to be detailed, analysed and refined to achieve the required performance against thermal bridging. This necessitated a very close collaboration between the architects and their building physics team, with modelling and thermal bridging calculations made to optimise and fine-tune the junctions.
  • The AMS-clad double-storey projecting windows to the Wilkinson Eyre/Mole areas of Lot 1 became a key design characteristic of the scheme. They provide interest in the accent corners of the design as well as giving rhythm to the duplex apartments backing onto the supermarket. The design of these windows was particularly challenging as it involved ensuring the units’ fabric efficiency was not compromised as well as integrating acoustically attenuated ventilation units to reduce the noise from the main traffic route and M11 motorway.
  • A steel box frame filled with insulation was used to frame the triple-glazed windows back to the in-situ concrete structure, stepped to project to the middle floor. AMS’ folded aluminium flashings were used to narrow the profile edge around one side and the top and bottom of the frame. A glass-to-glass corner was created on the other side, providing a view out beyond the flow of the façade. The attenuated vent was located to the solid side with an insulated rotating drum opening a free air route. This route turns 90°through acoustic insulation between the internal and external aluminium panels. A curtain recess was then created behind the vent within a surrounding deep timber reveal board.
  • Sleek AMS aluminium fin profiles were used vertically between the opening windows and corner window, and horizontally to the central spandrel panel to provide further elegance to the design externally.
  • Careful consideration to the interfacing with the other external elements such as the windows and doors was critical to ensuring a watertight finish to the building envelope.