Modern sustainable homes in a community setting
The development team of TOWN, Trivselhus and Mole Architects have worked with community members to encourage a sense of community at the design stage with a careful blend of private homes and gardens with shared space and facilities.
Half the homes are houses, three or four bedrooms and half are one or two bedroom apartments. With one exception, each home has its own private outside space, either a garden or a large balcony.
The homes are an arrangement of three terraces around Marmalade Lane and the shared gardens. The Common House is at the heart of the community connecting Marmalade Lane with the shared gardens and gives us a wonderful space to eat and meet. Eating together regularly has contributed to social cohesion throughout human history, and meeting regularly enables us to discuss issues that affect us as a group. As well as a catering kitchen, playroom, meeting and lounge areas, the Common House will have three guest bedrooms bookable for those of us who wish to avoid the wasted space of additional bedrooms in our own homes, which may be largely unused.
In addition, there is a laundry, workshop, gym and a small productive growing area. Car parking spaces are located at the edge of the site and each home has one parking space. There are 146 cycle parking spaces, many in secure cycle facilities.
The home design types
The development has six types of homes. The A-type terraced houses are 5.2 metres wide with two or three storeys and two to four bedrooms. The B-type houses are the same but wider at 6 metres. The C1 and C2 are maisonette style one and two bedroom ‘walk up’ apartments while the Ds are large two bedroom apartments. The E and F-types are one bedroom apartments. Take a look at the Marmalade Lane brochure
Currently, homes that are still available to reserve are A and B-type houses, with three or four bedrooms over three stories, and two one bedrooms apartments which are ‘affordable homes’ and involve a different purchase process. Do contact us for details of what plots are still available to reserve. We keep a waiting list for the other homes, just in case an existing member withdraws nearer the time. We also keep a waiting list of people who might be interesting in purchasing at a later date and a list of people interested in renting from a member or being a lodger.
The B-Type houses and the D-type apartments are designed to comply with the Lifetime Homes design criteria. Lifetime Homes are ordinary homes incorporating design criteria that can be universally applied to new homes at minimal additional cost. Each of these features adds to the comfort and convenience of the home, and makes it more accessible for people with reduced mobility.
For more information visit Lifetime Homes.
We’ve opted to have a shared street on our site (“Marmalade Lane”) between the North and South terraces, to help foster a stronger community. It will be a communal space between our houses that can be used in many ways and which won’t be dominated by the car (access only), as most streets are now. This means children can freely and safely play outside our homes, and adults can meet for a chat or have a street party. Cars are kept out of sight on the Eastern side of the site.
The Marmalade Lane will be accessible to vehicles only in an emergency or by prior agreement of the members for refuse collection, deliveries and removal vehicles.
The Trivselhus’ Climate Shield system is the main method of construction. The Climate Shield system has been used to build over 7,000 homes in Sweden and 300 in the UK. This is a high-performance, closed panel system whereby pre-insulated wall panels are precision manufactured in Sweden and assembled and finished on site.
The Common House and the adjoining apartments have a different method of construction using cross laminated timber but they are built to the same standard.
Our homes will be energy efficient with warm draught-free living environments and low energy bills. This helps to reduce the ecological footprint of the home – which matters a lot to us.
Heating will be from air source heat pumps, and ventilation for our well-insulated and draught free homes will be by mechanical ventilation and heat recovery keeping energy costs very low compared to ‘normal‘ builds.
For further details on Climate Shield see www.trivselhus.co.uk.
Located in the north of Cambridge, Marmalade Lane has excellent sustainable transport links. It’s right next to the guided busway, which has regular buses into Cambridge city centre and north to St Ives.
Alongside the busway is a fantastic cycle/footpath, which makes rides into the Cambridgeshire countryside, and the nearby villages of Histon and Impington, a pleasure. It’s an easy 15 minute ride going south from Marmalade Lane into the city too, with a cycle route running the whole journey. When the Chisholm Trail cycle route is completed, there will be a pleasant cycle ride right through to the southern edge of the city, including Addenbrookes Hospital.
With the new Cambridge North railway station, train travel is within easy walking or cycling distance or a short bus ride away.
Marmalade Lane, the lane between the north and south terrace of homes, has been designed in a way to discourage car use and create a more social and communal space. This means children can freely and safely play outside and adults can stop for a chat. Parking is on the eastern boundary away from the main thoroughfare.
We plan to start a car sharing group for those community members interested in helping to us reduce the numbers of cars on the site.
A proportion of the community’s shared garden is being set aside to grow fruit and vegetables. We plan to grow low-carbon and organic food that we can enjoy in Common House meals. The shared gardens have been designed with native planting & biodiversity in mind with some fruit trees that will help with the enrichment of Orchard Park and help it live up to its name and history.
Cohousing involves having your own home, with the added benefit of access to shared facilities. They work because people attracted to cohousing normally want to live in a more neighbourly way and build a strong sense of community together.
How we’ve developed
Cohousing involves a participatory design process, where future residents are involved, and the design process itself aims to build a sense of community. Some members have been involved in this process since 2008! We will have shared facilities with the management of the community shared and based on consensus decision-making. There is no shared economy involved but we have shared values around sustainability. Cohousing is not new. The modern theory of cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s as a result of dissatisfaction with existing housing and communities. Cohousing communities are now found in Northern European countries, US, Canada, Australia and the UK. Cohousing started to develop in the UK at the end of the 1990s and there are now 21 communities. With so few communities in the UK, there is a rarity value, and all cohousing communities are able to maintain waiting lists of people interested in moving in if vacancies occur.
‘The movement back to community is the key to sustainability in the Western culture, knowing our neighbours, feeling like we belong, being part of something we care about that cares about us – these are the elements of rebuilding sustainability in the world around us.’
The Common House is at the heart of any co-housing project. Research has shown that eating together has been the greatest factor in small group social cohesion throughout human history. It’s also vital that we have enough space to meet when discussing things that affect us as a group.
The Common House will provides spaces for meals and parties, games and entertainment, for children to play safely, for young people to have their own space to gather, where we can be close to nature yet protected from the rain and Cambridge’s infamous cold winds. The Common House will have three guest bedrooms – allowing us to avoid the wasted space of needing them in our own homes, largely unused. All in all it will be more affordable for us all to have enough space for our needs while enjoying facilities that would be prohibitively expensive to own privately.
Cohousing community members manage the community, usually using collaborative decision-making techniques with a preference for seeking consensus where possible rather than a simple majority decision making. Searching for consensus means looking for solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with. Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and key concerns – a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions.
For more information go to seedsforchange