BPTW Partnership’s Magna residential development is conceived as a gateway to Cambridge

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Located adjacent to the main line rail route on the southerly approach to Cambridge, BPTW Partnership’s Magna project for developer Hill Group comprises 95 high-quality residential units. The approved outline masterplan combined housing with teaching blocks and student accommodation for Homerton College.

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BPTW was appointed to take the reserved matters application forward, and to maximise the potential of the residential element. This included increasing unit numbers through additional storeys, as well as reconfiguring the massing and internal layouts. The dwellings, of which 40 per cent are affordable, are designed to complement the local context and adjacent college.

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Accessed from Harrison Drive and Kett Way, the £21m development is planned around a communal green shared by residents, students and the public. Breaks in the apartment block and terraced house streetscape enable the project to form connections with the city centre, college and railway. Conceived as a series of pavilions, the apartment blocks reduce in height from six to four storeys along the railway line. Four-storey blocks and three-storey townhouses line Harrison Drive. The intention is to create a legible human scale, while preserving density and creating a sound barrier to the railway, explains the architect.

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All the apartments are dual aspect to maximise daylighting and views out. Each unit has an open-plan kitchen, living and dining room, one or two bedrooms, and a winter garden overlooking the railway, or balcony facing the communal space. Perforated balcony screens provide privacy while limiting solar gain. Each ground-floor apartment has its own front garden and front door.

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The three-storey houses are conceived as a contemporary interpretation of a traditional street frontage. A red-toned antique-style brick is used throughout, partly in reference to the nearby college. Inset drainpipes create a sense of rhythm across the facades.

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The houses also feature integrated parking and landscaping. Covered porches provide residents with the opportunity for personalisation through planting or additional seating. Kitchen-diners are placed at the rear of the plan providing access to the garden and bike store, as well as the green.

A centrally-located staircase is lit from above by a rooflight. The first-floor living spaces face the front of the plan and open onto an inset south-facing terrace with a glass balustrade. A pair of bedrooms, one of which features a bay window, overlook the back garden. The second floor accommodates three bedrooms, including a master bedroom with ensuite bathroom and dressing room.

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