It goes without saying that community centres are there to serve and support communities – so engagement is crucial to make sure that they work for everyone. Clay Farm Community Centre was no exception to this: the project needed to combine a wide range of uses including a community hall, a library, a doctors’ surgery, shared facilities, and key worker housing. This meant that there were a number of different groups directly interested in the project – from the local parish council to mother and baby groups – and we would need to listen carefully to their needs, exploring every possible option to provide an inclusive and genuinely useful building.
The centre forms a key part of the Trumpington Southern Fringe development in Cambridge, so it was important for us to liaise with neighbouring developers as the design progressed. Corde’s collaborative approach helped greatly with this, reducing what could have been a complicated web of communication down to a single point of contact, and allowing us to be flexible and responsive as we spoke to planners, landscape consultants, artists and community groups to ensure every element worked together.
This efficient way of working gave us more time to focus on key objectives like sustainability, and we used a wide range of features and strategies to make Clay Farm a sustainable exemplar. We used a reinforced concrete frame, exposed where possible to help regulate temperatures inside, and sourced brick and timber locally for other elements of the façade. A flat, sedum-topped roof helps attenuate rainwater, while supporting the surrounding ecosystem.
The project has been a great success, distilling a wide range of interests and needs into a single, unified building. It acts as a beating heart for its community, and sets a new standard for design – as a highly sustainable development on track for BREEAM “Excellent” and CfSH Level 4, as a sign of how efficient working can help unite many facilities under one roof, and as a fulfilling, welcoming place to be.