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FCBS wins approval to replace Art Deco flats with student housing

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Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has won permission to demolish a set of interwar flats and replace them with new energy-efficient student accommodation for the University of Cambridge

The city council granted planning consent for the AJ100 big-hitter to knock down 1-12 Croft Gardens and construct three timber-framed buildings as part of an 84-home scheme for King’s College.

A petition calling for the protection of Art Deco architect DC Wadhwa’s 1930s flats gained more than 160 signatures. But the council’s planning team found that the level of works needed to restore the buildings was such that many of their original features would be lost.

Historic England did not object to the scheme, which it said would ‘not harm the significance of the West Cambridge Conservation Area’. Planning officers said a ‘compelling case’ had been made for replacing the homes.

FCBS said its designs adhered to Passivhaus standards, ensuring highly efficient buildings with very low energy demands and high levels of occupant comfort.

‘The scheme uses high-quality materials and calm forms which emanate a sense of permanence,’ said the practice. ‘These buildings are designed to last.’

Externally, soft water-struck gault clay bricks and hand-made plain roof tiles were selected to imply a sense of monolith and to reference surrounding materials.

Sequestered carbon in the primary cross-laminated timber structure will exceed carbon emissions generated from the clay products of the external walls, according to FCBS.

The practice said the project was assessed against a ‘bespoke sustainability matrix’ focusing on excellence in health and wellbeing; landscape and nature; water; materials and waste; community and neighbourhood; and construction impacts.

Pitched roofs will allow accommodation in the loft areas, reducing the buildings’ heights to fit with neighbouring structures.

Two of the new crescent-shaped buildings on Croft Gardens will provide a total of 24 one and two-bedroom residences for graduate families, with the central building accommodating 48 graduate rooms. A fourth building next to 29 Barton Road will provide 12 graduate rooms.

Three distinct gardens are proposed: a communal open garden to the central court; a formal garden room in front of 27 Barton Road; and an informal woodland garden around existing mature trees to the south of the crescents.

FCBS partner Hugo Marrack 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 onto the street.

’The enduring crescent forms complement the character of the Conservation Area while 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.’

FCBS Croft Gardens Cambridge scheme

FCBS Croft Gardens Cambridge scheme

Source: FCBS

FCBS Croft Gardens Cambridge scheme

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Note to the Editor: No matter how compelling the case for replacement of the existing Art Deco flats, don't you think we should at least have the chance to see what they're like, for the sake of openness and transparency if nothing else?

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