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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Contextual Living

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Andrew Tate reveals the master plan for a truly unique Cambridge development
TateHindle Architects have recently been involved in the obtaining of consent to build on old farmland site in Cambridge, renewing the area and providing more housing. 
Countryside Properties, the property company that TateHindle are working with, has secured reserved matters planning consent from Cambridge City Council for a 5.2hectare residential development of 229 homes, including 40 per cent affordable housing, at Long Road, forming part of the 2,300 home Great Kneighton development.
The new sustainable development is a planned urban extension located within the city??s Southern Fringe growth area between the village of Trumpington and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This phase of development will allow the northern gateway to Great Kneighton to be created.
Tony Travers, Managing Director of New Homes and Communities for Countryside Properties, discussed the planning of the project: ?We are already selling homes being constructed on the southern side of Great Kneighton and this phase of development will broaden the range of homes on offer. This new planning consent at Long Road creates the northern gateway and adds to the urban fabric of the City of Cambridge. While the site offers great access to the national and regional road network, the site layout has been designed to intentionally avoid ??through?? routes in order to create an attractive living environment.??
Andrew Tate, Director at TateHindle added: ?The desire to create an environmentally responsive solution in the form of architecture that is both rigorous and contextual has underpinned our approach throughout the design process. Working closely with Countryside Properties, we have developed a high quality contemporary scheme where urban living meets Cambridgeshire countryside.??
Andrew recently took the time to chat with Architects?? Choice about the scheme in more detail, including the contextual relevance of the site and the benefits of developing near green land for the future of these homes. 
How did the project come about? 
We actually won the project in a limited design competition. We were already working with countryside Properties and were asked to join in the competition for the development of the scheme. The competition itself involved several property developers who gathered together architects to come up with ideas for the site. We were asked by Countryside to submit an entry and that??s how it all started. It was very much a progression from our other project that we were working on together ?? Milbrook at Mill Hill. 
What is the specification for the site?
It has changed since the initial plans but essentially the spec involves creating one, two and three bed apartments and two, three, four and five bedroom houses, to create a range of homes set in squares and streets that retain and respect the existing mature landscape. There are 92 flats in total and 137 houses arranged around 4,600 sq meters of open space. Overall it is a 5.4 hectare site and that is just the phase that we??re working on. With 40 per cent affordable housing, there is a big expectation on the site. 
What is meant by the term reserved matters planning consent and what does this mean for the development?
The online planning consent was achieved for Great Kneighton in 2010, for a mixed tenure dwelling including 49 Hectares of mixed-use open space. It was then divided up into separate parcels and from there parameter plans were worked out according to areas such as height, density, type of use, movement and access, landscape and urban design. From here there was the Design Code, which detailed the specifics of the site. For example, what type of materials should be used and the sorts of roads. This is done so that the entire masterplan hangs together. All of the details are pursuant of the application. 
Has TateHindle ever worked with Countryside Properties before or indeed any other property developer?
We??ve worked on a range of projects together ranging from Milbrook Park to Beaulieu Park in the North East of Chelmsford. They are similar in size to the Cambridge development and are also part of a larger masterplan so this particular format for working was familiar to us. 
Other examples of our work include Cornwall Terrace, a Grade I listed property in Regents Park and have completed projects for the Crown Estate. As well as this we??ve worked on a warehouse conversion in a listed building and the design and delivery of The Triton Building. As a company, the majority of our work is in the private sector and we focus on working with and for property developers, although we have also produced commercial office developments and also have experience in hospitality and corporate fit-outs.
What were your first perceptions of the site? 
It??s a large site. The cleared farmland landscape provided a really good context for establishing the scheme. Existing tree plantations, the Long Road leading to the Northern Gateway and the wildlife corridor provided excellent opportunities and context for the designs as a whole. With Trumpington and Addenbrookes Hospital within reach and so many other existing amenities, it was a really exciting project to design for. Despite the fact that, on initial viewing, it appears as a wide open space with nothing in it, the reality is that there is so much for us to utilize and play with. It??s about making that connection with Cambridge and appreciating the resources at our disposal. 
In terms of the historical context of the site, do you foresee any challenges?
We??ve managed to work around any potential challenges. With regards to Clay Farm House, we wanted to create a vista to that. We??ve worked within existing hedgerows, and the wildlife corridor restraints and have come accustomed to these constraints, which in actual fact, offer us a beautiful, natural foundation for our work. It??s very much urban living meets the countryside and with all the surround natural elements, we??ve been able to push this ethos to the max. The design itself involves creating townhouses around town squares and combining this with country houses that emulate a country village.
What are the most vital considerations when thinking about a residential project from an architectural perspective?
It really depends where you are. In terms of Cambridge, it??s all been about place-making for us ?? you??ve got to make places that people want to live in. A bit part of this is way-finding. It??s nice to be able to get someone to your house without needing a map. To facilitate this, we??ve created a very distinctive character in the architecture. We??ve also organized the buildings around the landscape, being respectful to the natural landscape and melding it with elements of the new. From the arrival square to the Eastern Park, the courtyards and the townhouses, the landscape affords opportunity and organises the site in an organic way.
How does the size of the site compare to previous projects you??ve worked on?
This is currently the biggest project we??ve worked on but projects vary so much in the type of scale, are we considering budget size, square footage, contract value or is it something else? The Triton Building ?? a 25 storey building, was bigger in different respects. Our work on the Beaulieu site is a similar proportion to Cambridge. 
What kind of team have you put together for this project? What types of skills/areas of expertise do you have involved to bring this design to realisation?
I really get involved in this project, along with other associate directors, a project architect, architects and urban designers. There is then the technical team, we??ll have the technical architects on board for the working drawings and also have some juniors aboard who are very much learning their trade. These projects work at brake-neck speed and we work hard as a team to get everything done. The juniors may be junior but they know their stuff and will have been selected according to their skills for the project.
What do you mean by the term contextual architecture?
Contextually ?? by this we mean to create links with the surrounding areas. For example Addenbrookes bio-medical research centre plays a big part of the planning. Then there is the master planning and parameter plans; the greenbelt, Hobson??s Brook, long Road and the Clay Farm building, all of these had to be taken into consideration to determine how the site was going to work for the future. All of these elements have been woven into the plans to sustain original features, forge links between old and new and create a unique and diverse hybrid living development. 
What style of architecture will you be implementing?
The style is quite contemporary. We don??t have any pitched roofs, instead opting for private roof terraces with an A, B, A rhythm of rooftop, alternating the landscape and enhancing the sense of privacy. By doing this we??ve attempted to bring thr landscape into the scheme. 
What does the future hold for TateHindle? Do you have more residential schemes like this in the planning or will you return to commercial and hospitality design?
Work on the Cambridge development will start on site later in 2013, with the first properties expected to be available for occupancy in Summer 2014.
Beyond this we are very much pushing forward with the residential side of our practice. We really benefit from our experience of creating high-end residential developments in London, work together with people like Countryside and British Land. We will continue to work with Countryside into this year and next. 
We will also be celebrating 20 years as a company this year. Who knows what the future will hold.
About TateHindle: 
Founded in 1991 by experienced architects Andrew Tate and Jim Hindle, TateHindle??s focus is firmly on providing imaginative solutions through combining design flair and commercial understanding. The firm has worked on numerous high profile projects across a variety of sectors, consistently on time and to budget, including commercial, residential, retail, hotels and leisure. Significant schemes include the Grade I listed Regency residential properties at Regents Park??s Cornwall Terrace and high-end apartments on St James??s Street, both in central London, plus masterplanning Green Park business park in Reading.



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