Shortlisted designs for The Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition published

A new national park, an 'archipelago' of linked places, a series of urban campuses and a reimagining of the 21st-century village are the shortlisted design solutions for the Cambridge to Oxford growth corridor.

Visualisation of the 'archipeligo' concept. Image: Fletcher Preist Architects
Visualisation of the 'archipeligo' concept. Image: Fletcher Preist Architects

The National Infrastructure Commission and Malcolm Reading Consultants have today posted the four final design concepts in The Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition in an online gallery. The four shortlisted teams are led by Barton Willmore, Fletcher Priest Architects, Mae, and Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design and the winner is expected to be announced next month.

Malcolm Reading is also inviting comments on the shortlist by email.

Launched in June, the competition sought inspirational yet achievable visions for future development of the area, which takes up approximately 130 miles around the north and west of the Green Belt. Finalists focused on integrating infrastructure and development to create sustainable and liveable places appropriate to the corridor.

Commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission and competition jury chair Bridget Rosewell, said: "The corridor encompassing Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford contributes considerably to our national economy – if we’re to continue this success we must foster places people want, and can afford, to live and work in.

"The four shortlisted entries to our ideas competition are creative, innovative and exciting. This online gallery gives people the chance to see these entries, and to have a say on how their area could be developed in future.

"I’m delighted that we’ve attracted so much attention from leading lights across design, architecture, economics and town planning, and that residents and the industry at large will now get to see what their collective talents have proposed."

  • Barton Willmore developed The CaMKoX Innovation Hive Delivery Guide – not a fixed masterplan but an approach that envisages organic growth within communities, delivering not just homes but vibrant places to support innovation and business creation. A carefully guided approach to encourage communities to acquire a rich urban form and varied sense of place. Situated within a new National Park, the proposals set a new benchmark for development that enhances the natural environment.
  • Fletcher Priest Architects developed the Mid-Vale Archipelago, a constellation of linked, distinctive and compact places set within a continuous landscape. They propose ‘middle sites’ between the corridor’s major urban centres that combine the best of village life with the critical mass of larger towns while preserving and enhancing landscape character. The desire for beneficial relationships between existing and new communities is central – along with a patient approach to delivery that prioritises long-term capital benefits over short-term windfall returns.
  • Mae developed Urcadia – an ecologically rich urban settlement for the Just About Managing, the Yes-in-my-back-yards, the Millennials, and Generation Rent in the form of a ‘New Living Campus’. Their proposal combines the intensity and density of a city with the pastoral richness of the English countryside enhanced for leisure use, health and well-being and food production. New construction technologies facilitate economic housing for a generation suffering from no realistic prospect of owning a home.
  • Tibbalds Planning & Urban Design developed VeloCity, a unique region in the UK that is no longer reliant on the car, supported by an integrated road-and-rail transport strategy linked to a network of local, medium and longer distance cycle routes. Focusing on six villages situated to the south-east of one of the new stations on the Oxford to Cambridge rail link, VeloCity reimagines the 21st-century village.

A total of 58 teams from the UK and further afield entered the competition’s first stage. 

Healthy Design, Healthy Places

This November Horticulture Week partners with World Architecture News to host Healthy Design, Healthy Places - a conference bringing together developers, architects, landscape and other built environment specialists keen to crack the urban green infrastructure challenge. 

Find out more here.


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