Storey’s Field Centre & Eddington Nursery by MUMA, winner in the Community & Faith category, has taken the top prize of Design of the Year at the 2018 AJ Architecture Awards
This building – which contains both a community hub and nursery school and incorporates passive technology in its design – is a perfect balance of social and environmental sustainability.
It shows how great contemporary architecture can be inspired by (rather than happen in spite of) the need to minimise environmental footprint and energy use.
The building sits on the central route passing through the new development of Eddington, opposite the market square and on the edge of the major green space of Storey’s Field.
It consists of a 100-place nursery school, plus a community centre with three main spaces: a hall which can seat 180 people, and two smaller rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 50 and 20 people respectively.
The nursery school is arranged around three sides of a courtyard, which acts as a protected play space, while the fourth side of the courtyard is occupied by the community centre. The varied scale of spaces this contains can accommodate anything from a committee meeting, yoga workshop, polling station to a memorial service – and has been fully booked since it opened.
The building’s façade is formed of characterful, variegated brick, articulated so as to be enjoyed both visually and to the touch by passers-by. So the shadows from expressed vertical striations chart the passage of the day, while seats built into the building’s flanks catch the sun’s warmth. The building’s façades edge, form and animate the spaces around it.
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Inside, the nursery classrooms have high ceilings, strong colours and shapes, which, in addition to the finely landscaped courtyard space, make up a magical learning environment for children.
Within the main hall, further articulated masonry and joinery echo the dignity and decorative features of a Cambridge college and assist with the acoustic attenuation. In addition, the height aids a sophisticated passive ventilation system that obviates the need for mechanical ventilation, even when the hall is full of people in high summer.
As such, the design is an example of how passive technology, when orchestrated with a lightness and sureness of touch, can be used to help form the language and even poetics of architecture.
This remarkable building – which was on the Stirling Prize shortlist and tipped as the favourite to win – is finely wrought, intelligent, strong in form, yet subtle in its detail. It’s an exceptional creation and a deserving winner of this year’s Design of the Year.
Read a building study of this project here
Photography by Alan Williams
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