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​Storey's Field Centre and Eddington Nursery


Client University of Cambridge
Awards RIBA East Award 2018, RIBA East Sustainability 2018 - sponsored by Geberit, RIBA East Building of the Year - sponsored by Artifice Press and RIBA National Award 2018

© Alan Williams

This is the very highest quality architecture. It shows how an architect can add joy, an enhanced experience of materials and human dimension to every part of a building. The spaces in the nursery are worthy of a much more sophisticated audience, but are always based around the scale and activities in each space. Where small windows are needed they are arranged in the pattern of constellations of stars (even with the correct orientation), where a decorative circular window from the enclosed garden is made out of a ventilation inlet grille, it is evidence of the skill, imagination and continuous attention to detail of the architect. This is a truly well-crafted building, where material or technology is only used where it is needed.

The Community Centre and Nursery are linked operationally, so that a sense of space from views of the playground, daylight and ventilation are brought into the café but without compromising the privacy of the children. Where spaces have dual uses, like the external garden outside the wedding venue which can be used as a quiet reading room for the Nursery; the competing needs of the users are balanced and the management of the building is happy to make the extra effort (opening doors or moving furniture) to make it all work.

The Community Hall itself has been designed to become a more important place in the new community at Storey’s Field, to become its civic centre or town hall. It offers opportunities for weddings, music concerts, funerals, political debate, which gives it a significance above and beyond a space for hobbies, exercise, local groups and kids parties. To address this enhanced symbolic value for the community, the architects stepped the building side wards to address a longer view in the masterplan, and set it back to create a gathering space outside the Hall and a parents’ drop-off space outside the Nursery. To complete the sense of civic pride, the external walls of the Hall are lined with comfortable seats to stop and chat to neighbours while you wait to enter.

The inside of the Hall is a beautiful balance of function, sustainability (it is vented naturally using an underground labyrinth), acoustic performance and expression of materials. The patterned brickwork of the enclosing wall acts to break up the reflections of music or speech to provide a good acoustic, but also suggests patterns of geology in the surrounding landscape. The amount of daylight or the feel of the acoustics can be changed by simply dropping or rising blinds so users can control the environment without complex management systems. Even the access stair to the plant on the roof is via a sculptural spiral staircase that takes its part in performances.

This is an example of the very best in British architectural design, when it is this good it offers ideas, skill and care in ways that transform the human use and experience of this building at every opportunity.

The Nursery and Community Centre have been assessed for environmental sustainability using the BREEAM methodology and are on track to be certified “Excellent” and “Outstanding” respectively. Natural ventilation has been elegantly integrated into the architectural form with stack ventilation drawing air passively into the main hall via an underground labyrinth, this naturally moderates the temperature. The BREEAM standard is also reflected in the attention to detail giving to acoustics and quality of daylight. High quality robust finishes, and design measures to cope with future climate change, should ensure the building stands the test of time. A beautiful and biodiverse landscape design incorporates rehomed orchard trees that were no longer commercially viable. The project integrates with an ambitious masterplan for North West Cambridge with underfloor heating derived from a central combined heat and power plant, a rainwater main supplying the toilets, and new bus service and cycle route.

Contractor Farrans Construction Ltd
Project Management Turner & Townsend
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Gardiner & Theobald
Structural Engineers AECOM
MEP Engineers AECOM
Landscape Consultant Sarah Price Landscapes
Theatre and Acoustics Consultant (Community Centre) Sound Space Vision
Facade Consultant FMDC Ltd
Lighting Consultant Lumineer Studio Ltd
Civil Engineers AECOM
Fire Engineers AECOM
Acoustics Consultant (Nursery) AECOM
Planning Consultant AECOM
Access Consultant Centre for Accessible Environments
BREEAM Consultant NHBC
CDM Coordinator Faithful + Gould
NEC Supervisor Calfordseaden
Internal Area 2,248 m²

© Alan Williams
© Alan Williams
© Alan Williams
© Alan Williams
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