The three-brick specification at Marmalade Lane reflects the colours of the existing historic housing stock and has become a blueprint for future local developments
Marmalade Lane is a multiple award-winning, 42-home co-housing development in Orchard Park, Cambridge, recognised as a leading example of best practice.
To bring the scheme to fruition, TOWN, with its partner Trivselhus and supported by Mole Architects, was selected as the preferred developer by Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Cohousing.
Co-housing is a mutually supportive form of living that is well established in northern European countries and is gaining in popularity in the UK.
At Marmalade Lane, in addition to self-contained, privately-owned terraced and apartment homes, the community shares many spaces and facilities. These include a ‘Common House' at the centre of the development and a car-free street that is the social heart of the scheme - a place for people to socialise and for children to play.
Marmalade Lane is one of the largest examples of group custom build in the UK so TOWN and Mole Architects worked closely with the future residents through a process of co-design from the start.
A brick specification that reflects the city's existing housing stock
Much of the scheme’s aesthetic appeal is due to the use of three Vandersanden bricks: Majestic, Nevado Grey and Old Windsor.
'With a menu-based approach to dwelling customisation, purchasers were able to select their chosen brick colour from the palette of the three bricks, plus the option of a white painted brick facade,' explains Meredith Bowles, director at Mole Architects.
'Giving residents who committed to live in Marmalade Lane early on a choice of the brick facing used for their homes was important,' says TOWN founding director Neil Murphy. 'It has given the place a strong sense of ownership and created a streetscape that echoes the ordinary historic Cambridge streets with their patina of age. The choice of Vandersanden bricks, with their good texture and colour, brings the scheme to life.'
Although Marmalade Lane is on the periphery of Cambridge, the aim was to give the scheme a quality that is found in the brick colours of the attractive streets in the middle of the city.
Over time the bricks of the old houses have become sooted so the palette includes a kind of sooty grey hue, the more striking pale yellow of Georgian homes and also the red brick from the Victorian terraces. There are also a reasonable proportion of buildings where people have painted the bricks. Essentially, Marmalade Lane is a concentrated version of this collective vision.
Characterful, textured bricks for a modest budget
Bowles believes the choice of brick at Marmalade Lane perfectly complements this vision. 'It seems to have become a Cambridge style with new developments all around now using the same mix of hues. Vandersanden’s Majestic, Nevado Grey and Old Windsor provide the ideal range of colours and offer the quality and textures that perfectly echo the vernacular.'
Part of the scheme’s success, he says, was finding bricks that worked and had lots of character within a reasonably modest budget. 'There is something special about the surface texture, patination, irregularity and the sense of liveliness that these bricks offer. They evoke a handmade quality found in older bricks that makes them much more attractive than so many of the bricks made today.'
Find more on this project at vandersanden.com/marmalade-lane
For more information and technical support, visit vandersanden.com