Perfectly placed at the heart of the new Trumpington Southern Fringe neighbourhood in Cambridge, Clay Farm Community Centre is a focal point for both its existing and emerging communities.
Funded by the development of 4000 new homes, the flagship building needed to combine a community hall, library and doctors’ surgery with flexible meeting spaces and key worker housing. Cambridge City Council wanted the building to serve local residents by collocating public services into a vibrant, sustainable and flexible hub.
The centre fronts Hobson Square – a new urban space linked by a guided bus to Cambridge Railway Station – and straddles the line of a Bronze Age ditch discovered while excavating the site.
We started by asking all the people who would use the building exactly what they wanted from it, using workshops and diagrams to explore collective ideas about operational and management needs. This allowed us to design a building which combines all needs into a single, unified building. We then consulted more widely – firstly with the local community, then with the Design Review Panel.
A dramatic diagonal “cut” through the building form reflects the alignment of the ancient ditch, and creates the main entrance to the centre. Sustainability helped shape the building too: we carved two voids out of the built form, bringing natural light into the building’s heart. Externally, projecting fins shield windows from direct sunlight, ensuring high-quality natural light while avoiding excessive solar gains.
“The Community Centre may look simply and rational, but this belies the complexity of designing a building for so many interest groups and users. We worked our way through numerous workshops to create an exciting new focal point for the community.”– ROGER FITZGERALD, PROJECT DIRECTOR