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Marmalade Lane co-housing helps residents stick together

Words:
Michèle Woodger

Mole Architects puts sustainability, social interaction and community spirit at heart of development

Residents enjoy shared ownership and use of the Common House and its facilities
Residents enjoy shared ownership and use of the Common House and its facilities Credit: David Butler

Building: Residential co-housing development (42 homes)
Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Architect: Mole Architects
Building type: Residential

With 42 homes over 0.9 hectares, Marmalade Lane is the largest co-housing development in the UK. Mole Architects worked with clients and commissioners TOWN, Trivselhus, Cambridge City Council and K1 Co-housing to deliver this successful and popular scheme.

The two- to five- bedroom houses and apartments have numerous shared facilities including gardens, laundry, a hall and kitchen for shared meals, a workshop, a gym and a ‘common house’ for guests. All residents have a financial stake in the common property.

Key values at the heart of this development are sustainability, intergenerational living, community spirit and diversity – and an acknowledgement that social interaction and shared responsibilities create a supportive, vibrant neighbourhood. Eliminating isolation for older residents was crucial: ‘It’s an intergenerational scheme which is important in this world,’ judge Kathy MacEwen observes.

  • Marmalade Lane is organised around a pedestrianised street.
    Marmalade Lane is organised around a pedestrianised street. Credit: David Butler
  • Residents gather in shared open spaces.
    Residents gather in shared open spaces. Credit: David Butler
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Residents, a mix of retirees, professional couples, singletons and multinational families with children, chose one of five ‘shell’ homes, then customised floorplans, kitchens, bathrooms and external bricks. The closed panel timber frame system provides thermal efficiency, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems ensure comfortable environments, and air source-heat pumps provide low-carbon electricity. ‘The planning is very clever,’ says judge Hana Loftus. ‘They get a lot of different house types into something that looks the same from the outside, and is  finished to a really high standard.’

  • Houses on Marmalade Lane are structurally similar but customisable on the exterior.
    Houses on Marmalade Lane are structurally similar but customisable on the exterior. Credit: David Butler
  • A shared garden offers space for play and growing plants.
    A shared garden offers space for play and growing plants. Credit: David Butler
  • Site plan of Marmalade Lane by Mole Architects.
    Site plan of Marmalade Lane by Mole Architects.
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The scheme has residents’ resounding approval. Homeowner Jan Chadwick says: ‘The design has fostered our social interaction [which is] the glue that keep us together.’


Click here to see the longlist and other shortlisted schemes

Credits

Commissioner: Cambridge City Council with K1 Cohousing
Client: TOWN and Trivselhus
Architect: Mole Architects
Structural and civil engineer: Elliott Wood
M&E engineer: Hoare Lea
Landscape architect: Jamie Buchanan
Sustainability consultant: Co-Create
Quantity surveyor and project management: Monaghans
Contractor: Coulson Building Group
Timber panel system: Trivselhus AB
CLT system: Eurban
K1 Cohousing client advisor: Instinctively Green