The residential and retail development has been designed to mitigate the risk of flooding
2023 Higher Education Architect of the Year, MCW Architects, has completed a mixed-use scheme at Newnham Mill Pond in Cambridge.
The newly completed scheme, known as Mill House, features a combination of private apartments and retail space, integrating the existing townscape with new homes. The project replaces an Edwardian building that was closed down in 2016 due to fire damage.
The site, occupied for over 300 years, previously housed a public house built in 1903 that later served as an Indian restaurant until its closure. The existing building was identified as a ‘building which detracts’ within the local conservation area appraisal.
Local developer CamProp GCR’s brief called for 1-bed or studio apartments above a ground floor commercial unit. Two upper floors provide seven fully accessible apartments with carefully framed views across the millpond towards the city. The ground floor is occupied by a popular café/deli, also serving as a venue for evening events.
Colin Moses, Director at MCW architects explains: “This has been a special project for us – a remarkable opportunity to tackle placemaking at a small scale on a wonderful site that is a ‘stone’s throw’ from our studio in Cambridge.
“We enjoyed getting to meet members of the community and undertaking a genuinely collaborative process to create what has proved to be an immensely popular addition to this part of the city.
“It’s great to cycle by in the morning around the early morning coffee drinkers, enjoying views across the millpond and in the evenings to see the patchwork of apartments reflected in the water.”
In consideration of the site’s sensitivity and public interest in its redevelopment, MCW Architects and planning consultants Carter Jonas initiated consultation sessions with local community groups. The sessions, held in MCW’s studios, included representatives from the South Newnham Residents Forum and Newnham Croft Residents Association to discuss design work.
Early sharing of ideas enabled the building of a consensus, leading to amendments in proposals related to scale and material selection. The Planning Committee received a letter of commendation for the scheme and the engagement with the South Newnham Neighbourhood Forum.
The site is within a flood risk area, necessitating careful consideration from concept design to detailed construction. Input from flood risk consultants and understanding typical flood-resistant measures were integral to the design.
Placing all residential units on the first floor and out of the flood risk zone was critical. Additional measures for ground floor areas included in situ concrete up to the first floor and high-level routing of power and data feeds. Temporary flood barriers can be inserted into external door frames.
Addressing the complex hung tile junctions posed a challenge, requiring full engagement and commitment from the contractor and specialist subcontractor teams. Coordination and adaptation of designs through innovation and a specialist understanding of materials and fabrication processes were crucial in realising the project on-site.
Area: GIA 6,100 ft2 / NIA 5,100ft2
Project cost: Confidential (under £5M)
Completion date: January 2023
Gross internal floor area: GIA 6,100ft2 / NIA 5,100ft2
Architect: MCW Architects
Client: GCR Camprop Ltd.
Cost Consultant: Project Eleven Consultants
Heritage Consultant: Donald Insall Associates
SE/CE (planning): Conisbee
Visualisations: Rankine Ltd.
Structural engineer: Cooper Associates
M&E: Scotch Partners LLP
Acoustic: Cass Allen
Fire: GB Compliance
Principal Designer: CamProp Construction
Approved Inspector: Shore
Planning: Carter Jonas
Main Contractor: CamProp Construction
Clay hung tiles: Petersen
Facing brick: Wienerberger
Blue roofing: Alumasc Roofing
Single ply roofing: Alumasc Roofing
Composite windows: Ideal Combi
Composite patio doors: Ideal Combi
Bespoke Aluminium cladding, features, window reveals, flashings: Wallis Sheppard Ltd
Entrance doors: Vinco Windows Group
Platform lift: Gartec
Metal web joists: Mitek
Flooring: Saint Cobain
Ceilings: British Gypsum