Accordia challenges the traditional concept of a new home with a diverse range of architecturally dynamic new apartments and townhouses that were designed to bring the outside in.
The homes were built with natural, traditional materials but these were used in a highly contemporary way. Stock bricks, copper and timber gave texture and warmth to the homes, while large expanses of glazing flood the homes with light. Terraces, balconies and courtyard gardens were provided at varying levels throughout the homes, blurring the conventional boundaries between outside and inside.
Accordia was designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley architects working in collaboration with Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects. The site of former Government offices has more than 700 existing mature trees and these provided the framework for the masterplan, which was themed around the concept of 'living in a garden'. From productive gardens with fruit trees, herbs and berries, to formal lawns, reedbeds and meadows, the existing mature landscape has been enhanced with new and diverse green spaces between the mews courts, greens and squares.
Each home was designed to overlook one of these green spaces. Each space is linked to the next by a network of footpaths and cycleways. Low key streets, homezones and subtle traffic calming measures reduced the prominence of the car and created a safe 20 mph zone.
Accordia comprised a mix of houses, apartments and duplexes, including 30% affordable mixed-tenure accommodation evenly split between housing for rent and low cost housing for sale.
Careful consideration has also been given to sustainability in the construction of the homes. Wherever possible, timber has been procured from managed FSC-approved sources, and insulation materials are zero ozone-depletion rated. In addition, green 'sedum' roofs have been used on apartment buildings, providing a habitat for wildlife, as well as being low maintenance, aiding water attenuation and an excellent insulator.
Features such as dual-flush toilets, A-rated appliances and excellent sound insulation have resulted in Accordia receiving a BREEAM/EcoHomes rating of 'Very Good'. Furthermore, each home has been provided with dedicated bicycle storage for at least two bikes. Accordia also has excellent links to public transport, and its close proximity to Cambridge city centre helped to give it sustainability on every level.
Accordia has received a CABE Building for Life Gold Standard and is one of the highest scoring schemes yet.
"Countryside is a rare client in that they understand that high quality design adds value and desirability to new homes whatever the economic situation. They also look for individual design solutions that work within their context to create places of character. Without their vision and design brief, and our skills and strong working relationship, Accordia would not have been the first residential scheme to win the RIBA Stirling Prize.”
Keith Bradley, Senior Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
"This is high density housing at its very best. Beautifully thought-through houses are linked by a series of public, semi-public and private but visible open spaces, making the whole development a joy to walk through. Houses and flats have good-sized, well-proportioned rooms with views out ranging from the urban views to rural pasture. This development proves that good modern housing sells, that a committed local authority can have a very positive influence on the design, that a masterplan with a range of architects can be successful and that the very best architecture does not need to rely on gimmicks. This will be a project that will be much referred to and used as a future case study. It is architecture which gives hope for us all for the future."
The judges of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2008