Published by Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at University of Greenwich, London

The search for good design – part 3

Accordia houses


Finally no tour of housing design would be complete without visiting Accordia Living in Cambridge. Arriving on a drizzly late summer morning my first impressions of this development were of it’s connectedness to the city. I actually drove right past it. The estate is entered from mature roads in the middle of Cambridge and as such has a feeling of having been here for a lot longer than it actually has. The light rain may have enhanced it, but there is a real sense of the architecture and the landscape sitting together. The site is blessed with a numerous of mature trees who’s scale and placement has clearly been a factor in the massing and zoning of the streets, parks and gardens.


Accordia Mews
Mews housing


Accordia planting
The mature woodland planting makes this place feel special


Mature planting
Glimpsing through the large mature trees


The estate mixes two and three storey high houses with 4-5 storey apartment blocks but uses multiple heights across buildings with first floor patios and second floor balconies to create an undulating streetscape and maintain a human scale to the massing.

The streets with housing have been laid out on parallel lines such that access for cars is alternated with pedestrian walkways through shared gardens. This lends a very communal sense to the estate. Another key communal element is the inclusion of a corner shop and a park with children’s play area.


One of the communal gardens
One of the communal gardens

The planting is green and compliments the mature trees giving a sense of a natural environment without leaving too much responsibility on individual dwellers to maintain their own gardens.

The impression of space, nature and permanence, aided by the extensive use of brick in the construction left me with the feeling of people and architecture in harmony with nature. A sense of co-existence and solidity which, due to the quality of the space and the construction, I could find a very appealing place to call home.


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