Present Made of Eddington: Designing Future Communities
The challenge that emerges in creating new communities in the Arc, to meet the needs of a growing population and to house the industrial and research power of the UK economy, is how to plan for growth in a way that progressively builds upon – rather than dilutes – that collective culture.
England’s ancient cities and the centuries of lived history baked into their bricks sets a high bar for placemakers. The likes of London, Oxford, Cambridge have the privilege of a 1000-year advantage of selectivity and experimentation; time to improve, learn, and relearn, like potters carefully shaping clay.
Future community-building carries the burden of great expectations, not only in the shadow of a long legacy but also when benchmarked against the original ‘garden cities’ of Welwyn and Letchworth located on the Oxbridge Arc’s fringes which are built testaments to the idea that organic town planning is possible.
In equal measure, when adding to the fabric of cities like Cambridge that for hundreds of years had extraordinarily measured and conservative growth, care has to be taken so those future spaces do not simply become absorbed by neighbouring communities, but standalone as modern places that own their identity. The ‘future capital’ of the Arc depends on striking this delicate balance, in a fraction of the time that our predecessors enjoyed.
Take Present Made of Eddington, the flagship scheme of Apache Capital’s single family housing arm Present Made. Designed by Jo Cowen Architects, the £160m GDV project is part of the University of Cambridge’s wider Eddington master plan. The development will help the University retain and attract talent by providing high quality housing that is flexible yet secure in tenure, aspirational but still attainable in pricing and has convenience, sustainability and health and wellbeing at the very core of the resident offering.
The vision for Eddington has always been one with a long-term outlook. This is partly down to the vertically integrated structure of Present Made, which will own, develop, and operate the homes for rent for the long term, but also to the philosophy of the development’s namesake, the astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington, who advanced theories of the relativity of time.
Our designs for Present Made of Eddington acknowledge that the Arc’s status as the UK’s innovation capital will weigh profoundly on its future. New places have to be delivered with that context in mind, and ought to reflect the standards of sustainability, connectivity and access that the Arc will undoubtedly champion. These are all core pillars of the Present Made brand too.
Central to the organic-community concept is intergenerationality, and the idea of ‘third places’ essential to health and civic society, popularised by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the 1980s. By blending the infrastructure needs of the young and the elderly and situating these together, Present Made of Eddington aims fosters interaction through demographically agnostic spaces to meet, relax and interact.
In its realisation of ‘place’, Eddington will demonstrate how developments can be built in keeping with the existing built environment and the architectural pattern of the region – an organic extension of historic places rather than the New Town approach of the post-war era which has muddied people’s perceptions of planned development.