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Inholm, Northstowe:

a distinctive 21st Century town utilising modular construction technologies

Urban Splash
Northstowe, Cambridge
Project status:
Starter Homes Award, Housing Design Awards 2020

Inholm is a new urban quarter, located in the heart of Cambridgeshire’s major Northstowe development - the biggest town to be built in England since Milton Keynes. Initiated by Homes England, Northstowe will be a vibrant and distinctive 21st Century town with a strong local identity. Combining the historic characteristics of local settlements with a provision for more sustainable patterns of living and healthy lifestyle choices, the town will provide 10,000 homes when completed.

Inholm, is located adjacent to the proposed new town centre. The scheme consists of 400 homes in a range of houses and apartments, including homes for older people and first time buyers, affordable accommodation, and a community building and square at the centre of the scheme.

The design for Inholm - taken from the Danish word meaning ‘islands in the marshes’ - is inspired by the rich archaeology of the site that provides evidence of early fenland settlements. Native villages were typically set on high ground and defined by defensive perimeter edges and boundaries. Here the ‘Edge House’ typology forms a contemporary inhabited wall to the settlement with a staggered silhouette defining the landscape of the outer edge and inner protected streetscape.

All the homes are designed to be manufactured through offsite modular volumetric construction technologies. Proctor & Matthews are working with Urban Splash to develop designs to suit their modular housing product. Homes will be clad in a contextual way informed by research into Cambridgeshire and fenland traditions, buildings and art; creating a distinctive neighbourhood with a strong sense of place.

The archaeological fragments and discoveries found at Northstowe inform the narrative behind the brick entrance arches and portals used throughout the scheme. These free-standing elements frame entrances and create boundaries. In the absence of the modular housing the fragments and portals reference an assemblage of archaeological ruins. When the fragments and buildings are combined a unique silhouette and streetscape is revealed.

Car parking, refuse storage, and bicycle storage (with a requirement of one bicycle per bed-space) are designed into the fabric of the built form, liberating the public realm to give pedestrians, children’s play and cyclists priority.