Aug 2019

FCBStudios low-energy housing for King's College Cambridge approved at planning

Croft Gardens will deliver 84 new homes for students and fellows of King’s College Cambridge and their families, with generous gardens and communal areas. 

The designs, approved at Cambridge City Council planning committee, adhere to the rigorous Passivhaus standards, which provide highly efficient buildings with very low energy demands and the highest levels of occupant comfort.

Hugo Marrack, Partner at FCBStudios said “The proposals create a new community for King’s College. Dwellings for students, fellows, and their families are composed to create a variety of shared landscapes, centred around a splayed court , which opens on to the street. The enduring crescent forms complement the character of the Conservation Area whilst bringing something new to the streetscape. An exemplar approach to sustainability and longevity has led this project from the start. We are delighted to be working with the College and the team, and now looking forward to progressing this exciting project”.                            

The brief demanded low carbon emissions, Passivhaus standards and stipulated that the scheme should be designed for a lifetime of 100 years. The scheme uses high-quality materials and calm forms which emanate a sense of permanence. 

Carbon reduction has been targeted in the building fabric as well as its operations. Sequestered carbon in the primary CLT structure exceeds carbon emissions generated from the clay products of the external walls. 

Alongside this the project is being assessed against a bespoke sustainability matrix, supplementing the high standards of Passivhaus building performance with a holistic view of sustainability within the contexts of the immediate site and global climate. This matrix demonstrates excellence in health and wellbeing, landscape and nature, water, materials and waste, community and neighbourhood, and construction impacts.

Through careful placement of the building forms, views of the new landscapes, existing trees and an existing Victorian villa are framed and celebrated. The buildings have pitched roofs with accommodation in the loft areas, reducing their height so that they graduate between their neighbouring counterparts along the Barton Road elevation. 

The pair of crescents are home to 12 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom apartments, all designed to exceed London Housing Design Standards dwelling sizes.

The single crescent is home to 48 graduate rooms. This building works as two halves, with two entrances, each serving three groups of eight rooms with generous common rooms and kitchens.

The proposals look to restore the existing Victorian Villa, and retain as many of its valued Tudor gothic features as possible, allowing it to become a shared building and also be available for community functions. The new extension to the south will provide lift access to the original building spaces and a common room area which spills out onto a sunny terrace and allotment garden.

The landscape has been designed to respond to the character of the buildings whilst aiming to unite the whole site as a community. Three distinct gardens are proposed which build on existing site characters: a communal open garden, a formal garden room and an informal woodland garden around existing mature trees. 

Read our Explore article Models of Sustainability about how the Croft Gardens model, submitted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, focusses on the materials used and their role in reducing the embodied energy of the building both in construction and in use.

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FCBStudios low-energy housing for King's College Cambridge approved at planning