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Winners of the Cambridge Design and Construction Awards 2021 revealed



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Winners of the Cambridge Design and Construction Awards for 2021 have been revealed and demonstrate the skill, craftsmanship and engineering expertise that have continued amid the challenges of the pandemic.

The awards are run by the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry and Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service and celebrate the best construction projects, within five miles of Great St Mary’s Church, completed within the last five years.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the judging panel had to undertake a virtual examination of the buildings this year, and the winners were announced at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by CFCI.

The judges studied the context and brief for the building, the design solution adopted and the quality and difficulty of the construction and craftsmanship displayed in the building. Accessibility and the creation of an inclusive environment were also key considerations, and each scheme was expected to address environmental concerns, including energy performance. Where possible, the schemes were expected to make a contribution to the natural environment both on the building and in the landscape around the building.

Best New Building (Projects over £2m construction cost)

In this category there are two winning schemes and two commendations.

Winner: Chemistry of Health, Department of Chemistry, Union Road, University of Cambridge

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Winner - Chemsitry of Health. Picture: Nick Guttridge
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Winner - Chemsitry of Health. Picture: Nick Guttridge
  • Client - University of Cambridge
  • Main Contractor - Kier Construction
  • Architect - R H Partnership Architects Ltd
  • Services Consultant - K J Tait
  • Services Contractor - Kershaw Mechanical Services Ltd
  • Structural Engineer - Ramboll UK
  • Project Management - 3PM
  • Quantity Surveyor - AECOM

This new research building for the university sits on a difficult and tightly congested site on Union Road behind the main Department of Chemistry building. It is flanked by two distinguished brick buildings and completes the street frontage in this part of Cambridge.

The judges described the scheme as “a moment of joy and a building of architectural merit on a difficult site responding well to the context, resolving circulation problems within and between the existing buildings and with a clever internal organisation and circulation.

“The materials are well chosen and detailed and will weather well over time. The building also contributes a pocket park at the entrance, adding to the street scene. The building delivered a BREEAM excellent score”.

Winner: Cranmer Road Student Housing, King’s College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Winner - Cranmer Road. Picture: Nick Guttridge
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Winner - Cranmer Road. Picture: Nick Guttridge
  • Client - Bursar and Fellows of King’s College
  • Main Contractor - RG Carter
  • Architect - Allies and Morrison
  • Structural Engineer - Smith and Wallwork
  • Services Engineer and Passivhaus designer - Max Fordham
  • Passivhaus Certifier - WARM
  • Landscape Architect - LDA Design
  • Cost Consultant - Faithful and Gould

The challenge for this scheme was to deliver a group of new buildings in a garden landscape and create a community of student rooms sitting alongside the existing villas on Cranmer Road.

The solution delivered the first major Passivhaus scheme in Cambridge. This group of low energy buildings work well within the context of the existing Edwardian red brick villas in the conservation area. A memorable landscape and garden spaces for the use of the whole college community.

The scale of the rear pavilion was reduced through the planning process and the final solution delivered what the judges described as “an exceptional building with good materials and a high environmental aspiration which will inspire others to follow”.

Commendation: New Offices, 50-60 Station Road

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Commendation - 50 60 Station Road. Picture: Diane Auckland Fotohaus Ltd
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Commendation - 50 60 Station Road. Picture: Diane Auckland Fotohaus Ltd
  • Client - Brookgate
  • Main Contractor - Galliford Try
  • Architect - Grimshaw

Judges said this building provides a good solution to the challenge of the brief and master plan. It is one of the first of a new generation of large city centre office buildings. The judges praised the well-mannered architectural order and detailing and the way it engages with Station Road, mindful of the impact on the public realm. It was commended for its use of materials and the response to the street at ground level.

Commendation: Key Worker Housing, Eddington, University of Cambridge

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Commendation - Key Worker Housing, Eddington. Picture: Greg Holmes
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Best New Building Commendation - Key Worker Housing, Eddington. Picture: Greg Holmes
  • Client - Northwest Cambridge Developments. University of Cambridge
  • Contractor - BAM
  • Architect - Mecanoo
  • Project Management - AECOM
  • Structural Engineer; Mechanical and Electrical services engineer; Acoustics; Building Physics; Fire Safety consultants - URS
  • Cost Consultant - Gardiner and Theobald

This large development at Eddington delivers a community of key worker flats and apartments in buildings arranged around courtyards and public squares using precedents from Dutch housing which are not often seen in the standard UK housing models. It was built to high sustainability standards. Key features include unusual flat plans and walkway access to the internal courtyard flats and communal gardens.

The judges praised ”the modelling and wit of the building forms, the adventurous use of space and privacy in the courts. The layout and detailing provides a good basis for the creation of a happy place to live.”

Best Building: Conservation, alteration, or extension (Projects over £2m construction cost)

In this category there are two winning schemes.

Winner: Bodley Court, King’s College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Large Winner - Bodley Court, Kings College. Picture: Donald Insall Associates + Martin Jones of Overdrones Ltd
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Large Winner - Bodley Court, Kings College. Picture: Donald Insall Associates + Martin Jones of Overdrones Ltd
  • Client - Bursar and Fellows of King’s College
  • Contractor - RG Carter
  • Conservation Architect - Donald Insall Associates
  • Services Engineer - Hoare Lea LLP
  • Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor - PM and QS Services Ltd

The scheme undertook the repair, conservation, and refurbishment of this grade I-listed residential building on the riverside in the grounds of King’s College.

The judges described the scheme as “a fantastic example of conservation and repair with forward vision, tackling the most urgent and difficult problems first whilst looking to continue the refurbishment of the building interiors in the future.“

The project included the reroofing of this large building in Collyweston stone slates, which matched the original roofing but were no longer available.

The college took the bold decision to reopen the old quarries to obtain the right material, to train apprentices in this type of roofing and to execute the works to a very high standard. The reroofing included future proofing the design to allow future heat recovery mechanical ventilation to be added later. It also included a sensitive ecological strategy to protect bat roosts and colonies during construction.

The judges said they were looking forward to seeing the next phase of refurbishment to improve the environmental performance of the rest of the building.

This award is given for conservation.

Winner: The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Large Winner - The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College. Picture: Nick Guttridge
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Large Winner - The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College. Picture: Nick Guttridge
  • Client - Darwin College
  • Main Contractor - Messenger
  • Conservation Architect - Allies and Morrison
  • Structural Engineer - CAR
  • Services Engineer - Max Fordham
  • Landscape Architect - Bradley Hole Schoeniach
  • Cost Consultants - DR Nolan and Co.

This group of listed buildings overlook the Mill Pond on the River Cam. From the exterior a visitor would not know the buildings had been extensively refurbished and upgraded to meet current standards of environmental performance and conservation.

The internal remodelling was particularly challenging for the contractors and designers in dealing with tie beams passing through the rooms below head height and having to address and upgrade the poor general condition of the building fabric.

The judges praised the project for “the sensitive resolution of these difficulties whilst maintaining and improving the internal character to make it a delightful place to live and work”.

The design was adjusted during the construction process to retain and conserve wall paintings by Gwen Raverat which were discovered on the walls of rooms she occupied in the mid 20th century.

This award is given for conservation and alteration.

Best Building: Conservation, alteration, or extension (Projects under £2m construction cost)

In this category there is one winner and four commendations.

Winner: 10 Portugal Place

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Winner - 10 Portugal Place. Picture: Haysom Ward Miller
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Winner - 10 Portugal Place. Picture: Haysom Ward Miller
  • Client - (Private owner)
  • Contractor - RM Construction
  • Architect - Haysom Ward Miller
  • Structural Engineer - George Voyias

This project undertook the complete refurbishment and alteration of a small terrace house in Portugal Place in the city centre. The original building suffered from a lack of daylight in the centre of the plan and a dark basement area.

The judges “praised the designers for the inspirational move to remodel the centre of the plan with a new oak staircase and landings allowing light to penetrate into the ground floor and basement opening up views out to the tiny courtyard garden. It is a celebration of architecture and concept, transforming the interior into a wonderful living space.”

The judges also praised the quality of the construction and the joinery craftsmanship.

Commendation: Vinery Mews, 15A Vinery Road

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - Vinery Mews. Picture: Jack Harrison
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - Vinery Mews. Picture: Jack Harrison
  • Client - Vinery Mews Ltd
  • Contractor - Cam Prop Construction
  • Architect - PiP Architecture Ltd
  • Structural Engineer - CAR

Vinery Mews was originally planned to become flats and apartments on a tight site with boundaries to other properties hard up to the facades on three sides.

The Judges were pleased to see the final refurbishment and retention of this industrial building and its conversion to small office/studios instead of flats. The judges were pleasantly surprised by the simple, good choice of materials used in the scheme which retained the character of the building and the client and designers were praised for the environmental improvements and retention of the original structure.

Commendation: MCR The Grove, Fitzwilliam College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - MCR The Grove. Picture: R H Partnership Architects Ltd
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - MCR The Grove. Picture: R H Partnership Architects Ltd
  • Client - Master and Fellows of Fitzwilliam College
  • Contractor - Millcam Ltd
  • Architect - R H Partnership Architects Ltd
  • Structural Engineer - AFP Consulting Engineers
  • Services Engineer - Max Fordham
  • Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor - Bremner Associates

This scheme adds a garden room, an external courtyard terrace and internal alterations and remodelling of the 19th-century, grade II-listed, Grove to provide improved disabled access, provide new toilets, and social spaces for the 80 postgraduate students who live and study at the college.

The new extension is a quiet piece of design with extensive glazing and solar shading sitting adjacent to the house but with clear separation of old and new, each with its own character.

The new building also relates to the existing red brick garden wall features surrounding the site and to the modern auditorium across the gardens.

Commendation: The Copper House

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - The Copper House. Picture: Matthew Smith
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - The Copper House. Picture: Matthew Smith
  • Client - (Private owner)
  • Contractor - Mark Downs Building Services
  • Architect - Butcher Bailey Architects
  • Structural Engineer - CAR
  • Party Wall Surveyor - Gowers Surveyors

This modest rear extension and internal remodelling of a terrace house was applauded by the judges for the choice of materials, colours, and the fun it delivers in a modest scale of project. It was good to see a wildflower roof surrounding the skylight and the spatial arrangement achieved in the kitchen interior. It appears to have transformed the house for family living.

Commendation: The Seeley Library, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - Seeley Library. Picture: R H Partnership Architects Ltd
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Conservation Small Commendation - Seeley Library. Picture: R H Partnership Architects Ltd
  • Client - University of Cambridge Estates Management
  • Contractor - Millcam
  • Architect - R H Partnership Architects Ltd

This scheme was praised for the repair and conservation of a controversial modern grade II*-listed building which has fallen into disrepair. The interiors of the main ground floor space have been refurbished to provide a good working environment for library users, but the building overall is riddled with challenging repair and conservation problems which remain to be addressed.

The judges welcomed the design strategy to deal sequentially with the problems including roof repairs and the interiors and said they looked forward to seeing the long-term revitalisation strategy for this building.

Sustainability and Engineering Award

In this category there is one winner and one commendation.

Winner: Cranmer Road Student Housing, King’s College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Sustainability and Engineering Winner - Cranmer Road. Picture: Nick Guttridge
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Sustainability and Engineering Winner - Cranmer Road. Picture: Nick Guttridge
  • Client - Bursar and Fellows of King’s College
  • Main Contractor - RG Carter
  • Architect - Allies and Morrison
  • Structural Engineer - Smith and Wallwork
  • Services Engineer and Passivhaus designer - Max Fordham
  • Passivhaus Certifier - WARM
  • Landscape Architect - LDA Design
  • Cost Consultant - Faithful and Gould

The clear winner in this category was the Passivhaus student housing scheme for King’s College on Cranmer Road. This project is the first major new building completed in Cambridge to achieve Passivhaus accreditation which requires independent testing and verification of the energy performance of the building in use. It is currently occupied, and its performance is being closely monitored. It is hoped the results of this monitoring will be shared with the public and help to inform and inspire other developments in the City.

The overall environmental performance of the building including embodied energy, selection of natural materials and embodied carbon was considered to be exemplary, and the scheme delivered improved biodiversity in the remodelling of the landscape and gardens.

Commendation: Vinery Mews, 15A Vinery Road

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Sustainability and Engineering Commendation - Vinery Mews. Picture: Jack Harrison
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Sustainability and Engineering Commendation - Vinery Mews. Picture: Jack Harrison
  • Client - Vinery Mews Ltd
  • Contractor - Cam Prop Construction
  • Architect - PiP Architecture Ltd
  • Structural Engineer - CAR

This modest commercial building was praised for the retention of the primary structure and fabric and the reuse of the building to create a commercial office interior. The new structural elements and insertions were elegantly detailed, and the judges praised the ambition of the client and the design team to deliver a retrofit project to a high standard of environmental performance, significantly higher than the base line set in current regulations.

Craftsmanship Awards

There are three joint winners of the Craftsmanship Award for 2021

Winner: Bodley Court, King’s College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - Bodley Court, Kings College. Picture: Donald Insall Associates + Martin Jones of Overdrones Ltd
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - Bodley Court, Kings College. Picture: Donald Insall Associates + Martin Jones of Overdrones Ltd
  • Client - Bursar and Fellows of King’s College
  • Specialist Roofing Contractor - Claude N Smith
  • Specialist Stonemasonry - Hibbitt and Sons Ltd

The award is given for the Collyweston roofing works undertaken by Claude N Smith Ltd and the stonework repairs and conservation by Hibbitt and Sons.

Winner: The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College. Picture: Nick Guttridge
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - The Old Granary and Counting House, Darwin College. Picture: Nick Guttridge
  • Client - Darwin College
  • Contractor - Messenger
  • Plastering Subcontractors - RD Alsop
  • Joinery - Mitchell and Hudson
  • Fireplace restoration - Alexandra Carrington Conservator ACR
  • Conservation of wall paintings - Tobit Curteis Associates LLP

The award is given for the overall conservation works undertaken by Messenger as main contractor with their own skilled labour force and specialist subcontractors and for the conservation of the Gwen Raverat wall paintings.

Winner: 10 Portugal Place

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - 10 Portugal Place. Picture: Haysom Ward Miller
Cambridge Design and Construction Awards Craftsmanship Winner - 10 Portugal Place. Picture: Haysom Ward Miller
  • Client - (Private owner)
  • Contractor - RM Construction
  • Joinery Contractor - Maple Joinery of Royston

The award is given for the general quality of the main contractor works and for the quality of the joinery in particular carried out by Maple Joinery of Royston.

The judging panel

  • Dame Fiona Reynolds, chair of the judging panel, master of Emmanuel College, and formerly chair of The National Trust
  • Di Haigh, architect and chair of the Cambridge City Council Design and Conservation Panel
  • Katie Thornburrow, architect and Cambridge City Council executive councillor for planning and open spaces
  • Simon Smith, structural engineer and chair of trustees of the CFCI
  • Feb Phillips, architect and trustee of the CFCI
  • David Emond, architect and trustee of the CFCI

Sustainability and Engineering Award judges

  • Simon Smith, structural engineer and chair of trustees of the CFCI
  • Joel Gustafsson, environmental and services engineer, trustee of the CFCI
  • Bob Ensch, director of Morgan Sindall and trustee of the CFCI

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