With a name inspired by Britain’s leading preserves manufacturers that had a factory in the area, Chivers and Sons, Marmalade Lane is one of the largest cohousing developments ever built in the UK and the first cohousing scheme in Cambridge.

The first cohousing community was established nearly 50 years ago in 1972 in Saettedammen, Denmark north of Copenhagen. The 27 founding families shared a desire to live more communally with respect of the environment, sharing facilities as well as having their own private spaces. Since then the ethos behind this community-led housing development has spread across Europe and the world.

Marmalade Lane consists of 42 homes with 1 to 5 bedrooms arranged in 3 terraces and a 3 storey block of flats. The arrangement of the terraces and the block of flats around communal spaces is another key to the success of the design. Customisation was a critical component of the brief from the outset and early engagement with the co-housing team allowed the designers to take their layout selections forward into the development of the varied house designs. The Common House, at the northern end of the block of flats, consists of a large hall and kitchen for gatherings, a laundry, guest bedrooms, a workshop and gym along with a children’s room and 2 sitting rooms. All of these rooms provide much needed extra space for the needs of the community: whether you are looking for an extra room for visiting family or friends; a space to hold a birthday party; somewhere for a yoga class or to play ping-pong. The Gardens and the Lane are vital outdoor shared amenity spaces that have areas for growing fruit and vegetables as well as a playground, seating areas and pathways to surrounding roads and transport links. The block of flats and community building adopted cross-laminated timber as the structural solution, this was developed initially by Elliott Wood before being passed to specialist Eurban for construction phase design.

Prefabrication combined with just-in-time delivery means the site programme was significantly less than more traditional forms of construction. The cross-laminated timber block was assembled on site in just 8 weeks. 14 articulated lorries delivered the cross-laminated timber and glulam to site for the Eurban team. This means a lot less traffic than alternative construction methods, resulting in less disruption to the neighbouring residential area and ultimately less air pollution on the surrounding roads.

Health and Safety is greatly improved with these forms of offsite construction because there are fewer operatives required on site and therefore fewer opportunities for accidents. A lower number of deliveries also increases safety on site.


Client: K1 Cohousing

Developer partners: Trivselhus & TOWN

Architect: Mole Architects

Engineer: Elliott Wood

Mass Timber Specialist: Eurban

Main Contractor: Coulson




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