CAA Launch Event, CA73

posted May 18, 2017, 5:00 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA   [ updated May 18, 2017, 5:01 AM ]


Cambridge Association of Architects
30th Anniversary Special Event

Tuesday 23rd May
18:30
The McGrath Centre,
St Catharine's College


To book your place visit cag30.eventbrite.com

February Update

posted Feb 10, 2017, 5:41 AM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated May 18, 2017, 4:59 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA ]

Cambridge Association of Architects

February Update:  CAA Site Visit, Launch Event, Arcsoc Student Exhibition and more! 

Welcome to your CAA February Update.  Below are some upcoming local events which you may find of interest.  In the meantime, please also note our next regular meeting of the CAA as follows:

Date:  Wednesday 1st March
Time:  18:30
Venue:  Ashworth Parkes Architects, Unit F, Dales Brewery, Gwydir St, Cambridge, CB1 2LJ


We look forward to seeing you in March,

Tom Foggin
Secretary
Cambridge Association of Architects

Upcoming Events

CAA Site Visit

Join the CAA for a free tour of West Court for Jesus College, formerly Wesley House, by Níall McLaughlin Architects on Wednedsay 8th March.  

There are limited tickets available.  For more info and to book click here.

Cambridge Design and Construction Awards 2016

On Monday 13th March join the CFCI for an evening celebration of the best projects in 2016 from across the construction industry in the City of Cambridge. Shortlisted candidates will present their schemes, with a networking buffet and soft drinks included in the £25 ticket price. 

The judges will announce the Award winners in the various categories after the supper with a cash bar available until 10.30.  For more information and to book tickets click here.

We are asking members to “Capture the Cam” - the spirit of the river and its relationship with the city of Cambridge, using any media you like!
 
For a chance to be published in the next edition of the gazette, and a winning prize of three months free membership at The Glassworks Health club, please submit your entries to riba.caa@gmail.com by 31st March.

More info: http://bit.ly/CA72comp.

Arcsoc Student Exhibition 2017


The student-run Cambridge University Architecture Society, ARCSOC, will be showcasing design and academic work at their annual summer exhibition in London from the 6th to 9th July.  The opening night will include prizes presented by the CAA to a second year student, and by RIBA East to a third year student.  

The event is entirely self funded and ARCSOC the CAA have agreed to spread the word to local members!  More information about the event and how local architects and practices can support the student exhibition can be found in the attached brochure (1.9Mb).

Save The Date!

The Cambridge Association of Architects' Celebratory 30th Anniversary Spring Launchevent will take place on Tuesday 23 May from 18:30.

More details will follow shortly, but please keep the date free for an exciting celebration of Cambridge architecture and the local construction industry.

Keeping Cambridge Special

posted Oct 16, 2016, 12:09 PM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated Oct 27, 2016, 2:12 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA ]

The Cambridge Association of Architects took part in the stimulating Keeping Cambridge Special event at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences in early October.

Alongside Nicola Padfield, Master of Fitzwilliam College; David Cleevely of Cambridge Ahead; and Wendy Blythe of the Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations; CAA secretary Tom Foggin spoke on behalf of the CAA on the important input Architects and other professionals should have in the design process.

You can watch his talk, and the other speakers’ contributions, on YouTube.



Transcript    /    View the slides (6.64Mb)

My name is Tom Foggin and I am an Architect who has lived and worked in Cambridge for the past five years. I work for a practice which has been based in Cambridge for over 40 years and has designed projects for more than 15 of the Cambridge colleges.

Today, I’m here representing the Cambridge Association of Architects, the local branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects covering Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. Some of you may already be familiar with the CAA as we hold events throughout the year to promote local architects to the wider community, including our annual Spring Launch events and other activities. We are currently preparing an outreach programme to work with local schools, and twice a year we publish the Cambridge Architecture gazette.

The purpose of the CAA is to give representation to local Architects and promote the goals of the RIBA, namely to “champion better buildings, communities and the environment” and “to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes, and new communities.”

The CAA was invited to contribute to this morning as a professional body and to offer insight into the Role of the Architect in “Keeping Cambridge Special” however I must emphasise I am standing here this morning as one individual and the views I am sharing might not be held by all Architects across the city, or even those in this room. When thinking about what role Architects play, it is hard not to think in terms of built projects.

We spend the majority of our time working on projects across a broad range of sectors, from housing extensions to masterplanning, from church surveys and refurbishment work, to new schools and university buildings. However, the role that Architects play on a day-to-day basis is more than practicing “Architecture with a capital ‘A’”

So, to make things easier, I thought we could look at the role of the Architect in the context of a hypothetical project “Keeping Cambridge Special.”

As some of you may know, the RIBA publishes something called the Plan of Work which acts as a framework for running projects, and it seems like this could be a helpful way for breaking down how Architects might play a role in this project. So let’s take a look. Here’s one I prepared earlier.

This might look a little complicated, but I’m going to talk you through it step by step. The point of the Plan of Work is to set out the core objectives at each stage of a project, starting from initial briefing stages through to developing the design, construction, and eventually the in-use stage.

STAGE 0 - 1

So let’s start at the beginning. Keeping Cambridge Special. What does this mean exactly?

Stages 0 and 1 focus on strategically defining what the project is about. The first question is “why?” What is the business case, and what are the strategies for achieving it? This stage also covers another crucial question: “who is the client?” To be honest, when I was thinking about this, I wasn’t sure who the client is.

Are all of us, in this room today, the client? Are future generations? Who exactly are we keeping Cambridge special for?

What is it about Cambridge that makes it special? Is it the fantastic award-winning architecture? Is it the public open spaces? Is it the way in which the city has always been at the forefront of the national economy? Why else would it have doubled in size from 1900 to the year 2000 as this map by Peter Bryan demonstrates?

As part of every architect’s training, we learn how to analyse context and get to grips with understanding the parameters of a project. If we are answering the question “how does one keep Cambridge special” we need to understand the current situation in order to develop ideas of how to achieve the brief.

Whenever approaching a project, these are all questions that have to be addressed. Realistically, can we achieve the goals?

When we break into groups later, we need to work out these questions. Why are we keeping Cambridge Special? Importantly, we need to listen to each other’s ideas. What one person finds special about Cambridge might not be the same as someone else. That’s part of the beauty of the city, and of sharing ideas.

STAGE 2

Moving on, we come to Stage 2: Concept Design.

Stage 2 looks at developing the project at a more strategic level of diagrams, working out the project conceptually, some working models and initial layouts to explore form and adjacencies. This is a vital stage, as it helps set the parameters for a project, the framework for pushing the project forward. Ultimately, this is the embryonic stage where key decisions get made based on the brief to ensure initial ideas meet the client’s aspirations.

I must emphasise the importance of these first stages. Unless we get the brief right, and properly understand what we are trying to achieve, then the entire project will be fundamentally flawed. This becomes apparent in schemes where there isn’t a clear strategy; you get bitty, piecemeal answers which don't add up. This is why a clear brief is so important. Not only to guide the process, but to give a clear set of real-world constraints for designers to work within.

The same is true here. If we are to successfully develop Cambridge as a city for the future, we absolutely must have a clear, coherent strategy with justification for the decisions made. It is only then that we can establish the concept of what we are trying to achieve.

And what are we trying to achieve? Is encouraging growth on its own enough of a brief? I don’t think so. But it can be seen as a reflection of the socio-economic success Cambridge has experienced. Is this what we want to see more of? If so, how do we achieve it in the next hundred years?

There are major developments across the city right now:

- Down at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus led by the university, Addenbrooke’s hospital, and private investment.

- There is of course the major new North West Cambridge masterplan taking shape, led predominantly by the university, which has already won international masterplan awards and promises to deliver an exciting new quarter of the city.

- Down at the train station the CB1 development is creating a new business district and gateway to the city from the rail network.

Conceptually these are all discrete interventions. What is the big picture concept for Cambridge moving forwards?

STAGES 3-4

The next steps are what architects do, really, spend a lot of their time working on. it’s the bread and butter, in a way, of any project, getting it from initial concept stage through to a more detailed, technically resolved set of proposals.

At some point during this phase, the project will be submitted for planning.

This is a critical point in any project for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is important for any client because without Planning permission, no development can take place.

Secondly, it’s important for the architect and design team as it acts as a benchmark for the project. Typically, whatever you submit for planning is what eventually gets built.

For the city, however, the planning process is also an opportunity not to be squandered.

It is a time when schemes actually come under scrutiny, particularly here in Cambridge where we have the City’s Design and Conservation Panel, and the county’s Design Quality Panel acting as independent checks and balances.

In the last edition of the Cambridge Architecture gazette, we praised Planning Officers as “guardians of the built environment” and this has never been more relevant. We, as architects, place our trust in the local authority to act as curator for the city and to uphold the highest standards for quality. In return, the local authority should trust us too, as architects, design professionals and a construction industry with a vested interest in Keeping Cambridge Special.

What is absolutely clear is that, whatever happens in the next five to ten years, it is imperative that proposals should still be scrutinised, reviewed by peers, and deemed of appropriate quality for a city as highly regarded as Cambridge.

By the end of Stages 3 and 4 we will have a scheme which has been developed from a clearly defined brief, through a well-developed concept, to a well resolved solution. There may be many different aspects to the project, many different stakeholders involved, but the important thing is the proposals should form a coherent whole and respond holistically across the city.

This is where architects, and other design professionals, play an important role. We have been trained in realising projects from conceptual stage through to the technical details of actually delivering them.

But equally important, if not more so, is communication and understanding the complex challenges of dealing with different stakeholders: ranging from local residents, to the universities, businesses, the local authority, national investors and central government. That is an important aspect of everything we are talking about today. We are not dealing with a simple question, to which there is a simple answer.

We can extol the virtues of keeping Cambridge special but whatever future projects the city undertakes, there needs to be people with the right skills to not only come up with exciting new concepts, but also to see these through to deliver successful sustainable solutions. Sustainable not just environmentally, but socially and economically, for the long term.

It feels like I have already moved on to the next stage, but here we go.

STAGE 5-6

Stages 5 and 6, which I’ve grouped together as ‘delivery.’

To be honest, I don't have a huge amount to say on this. Once we have developed a set of well-refined proposals, then delivering it should be, in theory, a piece of cake.

Of course, there may be difficulties along the way, but with clearly defined goals and strategies from the earlier stages the process should continue and any hiccups can be dealt with.

The important thing I would like to get across is that, during the stage of delivery, it is important not to lose sight of the original brief and concept.

We often speak about the golden triangle of Cost / Time / Quality and invariably, through the course of a project, the priorities shift. At the start, we all focus on the Quality. The reason we undertake any project is to make things better, like this new tap for my bathroom. Then, as we progress, budgets come under scrutiny and we worry about the cost. Perhaps we need to make some savings? Then we get on-site and start to deliver the proposals. There is a contract in place, so time and cost become essential. So we focus on just getting things done.

Then, in the final few weeks of the project, we realise we are going to meet the deadline, and we are just about on-budget. But… what happened to the quality?

Unless the team behind Keeping Cambridge Special are committed to seeing it through and upholding the values of the original brief, then there is little chance it will be a success. This requires buy-in from all of the stakeholders, as well as the designers and those responsible for delivering the project.

STAGE 7

Once the project has been delivered, the final stage the RIBA talks about is the “in use” phase. Here, we monitor what has been created, track the performance of the project environmentally, socially, how it has impacted on its users. In the context of “Keeping Cambridge Special” this will be very important. You could see it as the feedback stage.

How have the choices we made affected people living in the city?

Have we made public transport easier to use, greener, cleaner?

Have we enhanced our neighbourhoods and given our communities new opportunities to grow?

Some of you may have noticed, or maybe not, that the Plan of Work diagram is circular. This is intentional, reflecting the way in which each project should inform our judgement and the decisions we make for the next one. We can learn a lot from our experiences, not just what has been successful, but what mistakes we have made.

Equally, then, we could view Stage 7 and the ‘in use’ phase as the very first step on the journey. It’s an opportunity to look at precedents from other cities to inform the very start of the process.

What has been done in other cities to develop their existing urban realm into somewhere fit for the future?

What lessons can we learn from the rest of Europe?

If we are looking to Keep Cambridge Special, is there anything cities like Strasbourg, Amsterdam or Copenhagen can teach us?

CONCLUSION

I’ve already touched on the fact that Cambridge roughly doubled in size between 1900 and 2000. That we are looking at further development and expansion in the years to come. The question is how do we deal with this?

There is no clear answer, no simple solution. But what is important is that we shouldn’t be afraid. We need to ensure that whatever form development takes, design professionals with the right skills are involved to guide the process and assist the inevitably broad range of stakeholders express their concerns, articulate their ideas, and deliver projects successfully with joined-up thinking.

We often forget that change is part of life, and that includes changes in the urban realm.

It’s all too easy to stick our heads in the sand and refuse to consider new ways of thinking. But then, we risk repeating the mistakes of the past. When new ideas are proposed, why don’t we run towards them, and look at what opportunities they might bring? When managed properly, with a thoroughly developed brief and careful planning, change can be a positive.

And one of the ways I think Cambridge is so special is its constantly changing, evolving character.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right now, to shape the future of this city and I hope everyone here today embraces this as a chance to do more than build new roads and pavements, but to create a city which sustainably meets the needs of tomorrow’s residents, and for the next hundred years to come.

Thank you.

Cambridge News: CAA's Letter to GCCD board & response from Lewis Herbert

posted Sep 9, 2016, 5:15 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA   [ updated Sep 12, 2016, 4:40 AM ]

The Cambridge News reported on the CAA Letter to the GCCD executive board.  In the letter, we state that we warmly support the principle of the Greater Cambridge City Deal.  However, we have serious concerns about the currently proposed schemes.  City Deal chairman Lewis Herbert responded.

Read the Cambridge News article here:
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cambridge-association-of-architects-hits-out-at-city-deal-plans/story-29698728-detail/story.html

Read the CAA letter here:

Read City Deal chairman Lewis Herbert's response here:

Read further comments from City Deal chairman Lewis Herbert  here:


Letter to the Greater Cambridge City Deal Executive Board

posted Sep 3, 2016, 11:07 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA   [ updated Sep 3, 2016, 11:11 AM ]

To the Greater Cambridge City Deal Executive Board (by email)

Cllr Lewis Herbert (Chair)
Leader of Cambridge City Council
Cllr Francis Burkitt (Vice - chair) 
Greater Cambridge City Deal Portfolio Holder, South Cambridgeshire District Council
Cllr Ian Bates (Chair)
Economy & Environment Committee, Cambridgeshire County Council
Professor Nigel Slater
Pro-Vice Chancellor for Enterprise and Regional Affairs at the University Cambridge
Mark Reeve (temporary)
Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership

1 September 2016

Greater Cambridge City Deal Design Quality Leadership

Honourable members of the Executive Board,

The Cambridge Association of Architects (CAA) is the local chapter of the RIBA in Cambridgeshire, a charity which is comprised of local professionals who work and live in Cambridge and the region.

We warmly support the principle of the Greater Cambridge City Deal, and acknowledge the need to improve the region’s infrastructure to secure future prosperity for the people of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. We recognise that significant infrastructure improvements can potentially have a positive impact on improving housing provision, skills development and supporting economic growth.

However, we have serious concerns over the impact that the currently proposed schemes, particularly for Milton Road and Histon Road, are likely to have on (a) the cohesion of the city’s communities and (b) on the quality of the city’s public realm.

The CAA believe that the City Deal process is missing opportunities to improve both of these by attempting to make decisions too early, without giving sufficient consideration to design quality in the critical early feasibility stages. Moreover, that the City Deal process is squandering a major opportunity to improve the infrastructure, public realm and place-making potential in key areas of the city by focusing solely on engineering solutions to a partially formed and narrow brief. The greatest likelihood is that it will repeat the mistakes of the past and create unloved, and under-utilised spaces that fail to live up to the promise of the City Deal.

In recent months we have been observing the development of the infrastructure design process, and have completed written submissions and participated in Local Liaison Forum consultations. Furthermore, we have featured several references to the GCCD in our bi-annual publication Cambridge Architecture Gazette, extracts of which are attached for reference. Some of our commentary has attracted a great deal of attention in local news and on social media.

We agree that priority should be given to pedestrians, bikes and public transport over individual car borne transport into the city, and that congestion must be reduced.

However, the CAA has serious concerns that the process is being pushed forward without adequate regard for the wider impact the proposals will have on the urban fabric; and without a suitably qualified design team with a brief to develop coherent, considered proposals that challenge and respond to the initial engineering objectives. These concerns can be described in two broad areas: communities and design quality.

Considering communities, it is clear that there is much opposition to the current bus corridor proposals. The CAA believe that solely focusing on infrastructure in the narrow scope of roads, pavements and cycle lanes, misses a wider opportunity to improve the quality of the city and to provide consequential benefit to local residents on affected roads. We wish to see the city hold a stronger aspiration to improve our streets and communities, as these assets affect, and support, the future growth of the city in equal measure to traffic movement. This process should be positive for local as well and city wide and regional communities.

Considering design quality, it is clear that there has been very little thought as to the quality of the design for City Deal corridors beyond traffic data improvement and very simplistic rule of thumb widths for road cross sections. It may be a challenge to place trees on streets, but it is essential in a city that famously embraces its rural-urban balance. As experienced consultants we are often asked to challenge the brief and find solutions that balance the competing demands of numerous stakeholders with different ambitions, in order to develop creative solutions or at least informed compromises to such complex challenges. It is essential for the city that infrastructure design is considered in a broad multi-disciplinary design team at the earliest possible opportunity, not just by road engineers.

Therefore, the Cambridge Association of Architects now call on the City Deal Executive Board to:
  1. Make good on the City Deal mission statement which observes that Cambridge “is an attractive place and… a good place for business leaders and their families to live, not just a good place to do business.” which suggests a broader definition of city infrastructure including the public realm, streets, parks and squares, building on the long lasting qualities of our city;
  2. Broaden the discussion beyond road, bike and pavement infrastructure to include public space, materials palettes for Cambridge streets, and community benefits (i.e. seek opportunities for consequential benefit of the capital expenditure of the City Deal beyond traffic data);
  3. Make sure that all commissioned studies completed on road design will be multi-disciplinary to include urban designers and landscape architects with relevant experience of infrastructure as well as road engineers;
  4. Appoint an experienced design champion who will provide a wider unifying approach between disciplines and challenge textbook engineering assumptions of road design;
  5. Utilise the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel to review and guide the City Deal on street design;
  6. Implement immediate change to improve the design quality leadership currently exhibited in the process.
We would be happy to discuss how we, as an organisation can assist the City Deal Executive Board with achieving these goals.

Yours Sincerely,
The Cambridge Association of Architects GCCD Committee 
For and on behalf of the Cambridge Association of Architects

Cc:
MP Daniel Zeichner
Member for Cambridge and Shadow Minister for Transport
Cllr Steve Count
Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council
Cllr Kevin Blencowe
Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, Cambridge City Council
Cllr Peter Topping
Leader, South Cambridgeshire District Council
Roger Taylor
Director of Estates Strategy, University of Cambridge

Statement regarding the Greater Cambridge City Deal proposals for Milton Road and Histon Road

posted Jun 27, 2016, 11:29 AM by Cambridge Association of Architects RIBA   [ updated Jun 27, 2016, 11:30 AM ]

The Cambridge Association of Architects supports the view that investment in the city should not only focus on alleviating traffic movement along roads and bus/cycle lanes, but should rather improve the streetscape and urban environment which make up this attractive city. 

At the moment it seems that plans were drawn by, and are promoted by, transport experts and executives to 'streamline' (wording in the document) projects through the planning process.  It seems that any consideration of the long term effect these proposals may have on the urban realm, the impact on the character of these routes into the city, and any quality control mechanisms such as the Design and Conservation Panel have been put to one side.

Given the specific nature of the current proposals for Histon and Milton Roads, we would support the promotion of a more detailed and intentional design of the streets and their context, rather than only apply the Manual for Streets principles, as currently addressed in the Design Guide appendix. 

The most recent edition of our Cambridge Architecture gazette - https://issuu.com/ribacaa/docs/ca71 - includes specific comment on the Milton Road proposals (pp 14-15).  The magazine also includes more general views in support of the planning officers as gatekeepers of the built environment (pp 22-23), who appear to be notably absent from the City Deal process.

We would be happy to provide further advice, as strong supporters of ensuring design quality for the urban realm.

Apology for errors in our mailing list

posted May 17, 2016, 12:04 PM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated May 17, 2016, 12:04 PM ]

The CAA would like to apologise for an error with our mailing list.  Our publisher uses a third party to send out the gazette.  Despite instructions to the contrary, the third party reused an old copy of the mailing list.  This means that many new subscribers did not receive the gazette, and many former subscribers did not get removed from distribution. 

To rectify the situation, our publisher will be sending out copies to new subscribers as soon as possible.  Those who should have been removed from distribution will receive a letter of apology.  We realise this problem is especially sensitive to the families of former subscribers who have passed away.  We deeply regret this error. 


CA71 Launch Event

posted Apr 25, 2016, 2:33 PM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated Apr 25, 2016, 2:33 PM ]

You are invited to join the Cambridge Association of Architects, for our annual Spring Launch event at Queens' College, Cambridge from
 18:30 on Wednesday 25th May 2016. 

We're celebrating the launch of the 71st edition of Cambridge Architecture focusing on a theme fundamental to the success of any construction project: Teamwork.

Join Alan Vallance - Interim Chief Executive of the RIBA, members of the Cambridge Association of Architects, graduates, other industry professionals, and clients as we celebrate with refreshments in the historic setting of the Old Hall at Queen's College.

Please register your attendance on Eventbrite to secure your free place.


Growing Space - Cambridge University Architecture Students

posted Apr 7, 2016, 1:28 PM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated Apr 25, 2016, 2:31 PM ]

Join the Cambridge Year One architecture students at the special opening of their built projects for the Cambridge Cyrenians charity allotment.

Read about the Cambridge students' project here:

And here:
 
















 

Mill Road Depot Consultation

posted Jan 27, 2016, 9:46 AM by Kelly O'Doherty   [ updated Jan 28, 2016, 5:38 AM ]

CAA member Alex Reid commenting on the proposed plan for Mill Road Depot development
Two CAA representatives took part in a second consultation workshop for the development of Mill Road Depot, along with local residents and relevant stakeholders.

Cambridge City Council is preparing a Planning and Development Brief SPD to help guide the re-development of the site with Allies and Morrison as masterplanners.
The depot is allocated for residential development of 167 dwelling (site R10) in the Cambridge Local Plan 2014.

Some of the issues which were raised included:
Open space provision, amount and location; Building heights; Need for community and services facilities; Potential for car free development; Access from Mill Road and Hooper Street; The amount of affordable housing; Sustainable design; Connection with Chisholm Trail for bicycles.

The CAA representatives highlighted the need to consider the buildings typology in relation to the site's industrial history in order to maintain its distinctive character, as well as proposing to add facilities and accommodation for the Mill Road area artist community.

Link to Council's website:
http://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=16128&Opt=0

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