Candidate: Accordia

Location: Cambridge, UK

Category: The Great Neighbourhood Award

Year: 2012

Learning Moments

1. The inception, design, and development of the neighbourhood of Accordia appears to have been exceptionally well-managed and run throughout the 15 year process by the local authority, as evident in the quality of the buildings, streets, public spaces, and landscapes

2. An active community group has been established, and upon completion of the area, has the potential to flourish into an effective body with a wider community governance role

3. Almost half a million pounds has been allocated as part of Section 106 that accompanies the planning consent and is available for investment by the community, which they have decided to use to fund a member of staff to organize community events and what not

4. Although it is an exemplar of modern British urban design (was awarded the Building for Life Gold Standard in 2006), Accordia retains a distinct and definitive Cambridge feel, utilizing the traditional Cambridge residential building design of brickwork

5. The development consists of 30% affordable housing, however, it has been spatially segregated within the neighbourhood, concentrated in two small sections furthest from the entrance to the community. Additionally, the area has limited draw for non-residents, and it remains to be seen whether Accordia will become an integral part of the city’s public realm

Assessment Summary

Accordia is a relatively new, widely publicised and predominately residential neighbourhood in Cambridge. Accordia is both characterful and distinctive, thanks to its architecture, streets, spaces and landscape design – each of which demonstrate a quality of design and implementation that highlight the development as a true exemplar of recent British urban design.

Accordia definitely and distinctively feels like Cambridge. The city has, particularly over the last 40 years, developed a distinctive approach to the design of residential building in brick, and Accordia makes a significant contribution to this tradition. Accordia is without doubt an attractive and safe place for people to live. The buildings, streets and open spaces are excellent. This is a credit to the planning authority, designers and developers.

The development however, is now in transition. Construction work on the 9.5 hectare site is almost complete after 8 years and over the coming years we will be able to see whether the neighbourhood, as opposed to the development, will be well managed, inclusive, fair and well run.

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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