In Brief

Countryside Properties (Accordia) Ltd


Construction value: 

June 2008

Accordia was the first housing project to win the RIBA Stirling Prize and widely regarded as having set a whole new benchmark for large-scale housing in the UK.

Our aim has been to produce an exemplary urban environment: a desirable place to live that balances usable private space within an overall structure of high-quality public space.

The design includes a variety of innovative house and apartment types in the form of terraces, courtyard houses and ‘set-piece’ apartment buildings, composed within public landscaped gardens that extend to approximately three hectares.

Read 'Dwelling: Accordia Revisited' by Keith Bradley.


The aim of the project was to create a desirable place to live that balances usable private space with high quality public space.

Our approach reflects the changing aspirations of modern lifestyles and continues a strong tradition of domestic architecture in Cambridge, creatively blending built form with landscape.

The design replaces traditional gardens with a variety of private open spaces such as courtyards, roof terraces and large balconies. A mixture of house and apartment types weaves into the fabric of these spaces in the form of terraces, courtyard houses and set-piece apartment buildings. The scheme also adopts a holistic approach to environmental design, creating a well-rounded and sustainable complex.

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The scheme is set in a mature landscape - previously occupied by 1940s low-rise government offices - and contains over 700 mature trees. These trees are integrated into landscape consultant, Grant Associates’ designed landscape and communal gardens.

Jamie Anderson's paper in 'Frontiers in Public Health' studied residents at Accordia, and found that living in a neighbourhood with a higher ratio of communal gardens is associated with higher levels of wellbeing and community.

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"This is high density housing at its very best... An exhilarating project which marked a paradigm shift in British housing"

RIBA Judges, 2008

“With its combination of terraced streets, mews houses and courtyards, the Accordia development was a refreshing bolt of common-sense design that would influence the next decade and more of British housing.” 

Oliver Wainwright, Guardian
Our appointment included masterplanning this strategically important brownfield site.

Subsequently this led to us also designing 212 houses and 166 apartments at an overall density of 40 dwellings per hectare. The masterplan proposed enhancements to pedestrian and cycle routes, promoting their use by incorporating landscaped ‘streets’, shared surfaces, and integrated cycle parking for all dwellings. Discreet car parking is also included within each dwelling. 

There is rich diversity in the design of the buildings, from the understated simplicity of the layouts to the highly complex two-staircase and scissor-plan stair designs present in some of the dwellings.

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Selected Awards

2008 The RIBA Stirling Prize 
2009 RICS East of England Awards: Regeneration Award
2009 Hauser Award: Shortlist
2008 RIBA National Award
2007 Civic Trust Award
2006 Building for Life Awards: Gold Standard
Housing Design Awards: Overall Winner
2006 Housing Design Awards: Medium Housebuilder Winner
2006 National Homebuilder Design Awards: Best Housing Project of the Year
2006 National Homebuilder Design Awards: Best House of three or more storeys
2004 National Homebuilder Design Awards: Project Award
2003 Housing Design Awards: National Project Award

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"The values of Accordia are those British cities need more of: a subtly controlling masterplan, a collaborative approach and an eye for both the detail and the big picture in the landscape and the architecture."
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Countryside Properties (Accordia) Ltd 
Associate Architects:
Maccreanor Lavington
Alison Brooks Architects
Landscape Consultant:
Grant Associates
Structural Engineer:
Richard Jackson Plc
M & E Engineer:
Roberts & Partners
Planning Supervisor:
DTZ Pieda Consulting
Cost Consultant:
Philip Pank Partnership
Traffic Consultant:
Denis Wilson Partnership
Kajima Construction Europe
Tim Crocker

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