Accordia Brass Building Cambridge


“This is high-density housing at its very best, demonstrating that volume house-builders can deliver high-quality architecture while improving their own bottom line.” – RIBA Stirling Prize Judges

ABA’s twelve unit apartment building is the ‘turning point’ at the central green of the 400-unit master plan. ABA’s initial instinct was that the building should be crystalline, a shimmering apparition among the trees in contrast to the rigorous orthogonal geometry and brick construction throughout the rest of the site

This led to the idea of creating a building based on a radial structure, like a fruit with seeds radiating from the centre. The radial geometry generates facades at varying angles; internal spaces focus on long oblique views through the trees rather than frontal views toward buildings opposite. Balconies were created by utilizing inward and outward façade geometries on alternating floors. Windows are shifted slightly from floor to floor so that each flat has unique views while the apparent ‘movement’ of the facades is accentuated. Although the building appears complex, it is very simple with a repeating floor plate of two 2-bed flats per floor of 103sq.m, multi-use open living spaces and full wheelchair access. The ground floor parking is screened by rigid stainless steel mesh and ‘diamond’ shaped box hedges.

The large areas of south facing glazing are screened by deciduous trees in summer and allow solar gain in winter, while the north and side elevations are more opaque. Brass cladding accommodates the precise, ‘cut and folded’ form. This building has been compared to baroque architecture, a comparison that we welcome; the idea that baroque devices of architectural illusion, apparent movement and cultural optimism can transfer from 17th Century architecture into housing for the 21st Century.

Countryside Properties plc
12 units / 1,556 m²
Awards 10
  • RIBA Stirling Prize
  • Housing Design Awards: Overall Winner
  • Civic Trust Award
  • RIBA National Award
  • RIBA East Regional Award
  • National Homebuilder Design Awards: Best Housing Project of the Year
  • National Homebuilders Awards: Best Housing Project of the Year
  • National Homebuilders Awards: Best Large Scale Housing Project
  • Housing Design Awards: Best Medium Housebuilder
  • Housing Design Award
Grant Associates
Richard Jackson
Roberts & Partners
Kajima Corporation
Paul Riddle
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