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Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards 2023 

Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards 2023 

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service and the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry (CFCI) are pleased to publish the winners of the Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards 2023, announced at an awards ceremony on Monday, 13 March, hosted by the CFCI at the McGrath Centre, St. Catharine’s College.

Submissions were welcomed from the whole of Greater Cambridge, including both the City and South Cambridgeshire. The awards celebrate the best construction projects completed in Greater Cambridge, including new buildings and conservation, alterations, or extensions to existing buildings.

We are pleased to celebrate and showcase the design and construction skills, craftsmanship and engineering which have continued through this period and contributed to the built environment of our region.

The judges visited shortlisted projects in early February to examine the buildings and experience the spaces first-hand.

The judges would like to thank all the teams who submitted entries for the 2023 awards. The judging criteria for the awards included the context and the brief for the building, the design solution adopted, the quality and difficulty of the construction and the craftsmanship displayed in the building. Accessibility and the creation of an inclusive environment are also vital considerations.

Each scheme is expected to address environmental concerns, including energy performance. In addition, where possible, the projects are expected to contribute to the natural environment both on the building and in the landscape around the building.

There are also 3 ‘People Award’ categories for those working in the construction industry and related professions. The People Awards recognise the achievements of those who have excelled in their fields in the design and construction industry.

The winners of the 3 People Awards are:

  • Apprentice of the year: Connor Howell, 3C Shared Services Building Control
  • Young professional of the year: Lauren New, Cambridge Investment Partnership
  • Site Manager of the year: Julian Redpath, Cocksedge

The 8 project award categories for 2023 are:

  • Best new neighbourhood
  • Best new building (under £2m construction costs)
  • Best new building (over £2m construction costs)
  • Best conservation, alteration, or extension of an existing building (under £2m construction costs)
  • Best conservation, alteration, or extension of an existing building (over £2m construction costs)
  • David Mackay Award for engineering and sustainability
  • Craftsmanship Award
  • Contractor Award

The judging panel was chaired by Dame Fiona Reynolds, former master of Emmanuel College Cambridge and former director-general of the National Trust. The submission process and judging process were jointly facilitated by the GCSPS and CFCI volunteer trustees.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair of Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards judges, said: “We were delighted to see the range and quality of the entries, including a growing number from outside the City.  Each year, there is a greater focus on the environment and accessibility alongside inspiring architecture and design, all of which we warmly welcome.”

Stephen Kelly, Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development for Greater Cambridge Shared Planning, said: “Once again the awards demonstrate the wealth of architectural and construction talent in Greater Cambridge. The effort that our construction companies put into balancing environmental concerns with aesthetics is truly inspirational, and the finalists are a credit to the industry.”

Cllr Dr Tumi Hawkins, Lead Cabinet member for Planning for South Cambs District Council said: “These extraordinary awards celebrate the talent in construction, craft skills, design and placemaking in Greater Cambridge. Events like this celebrate good design and raise the bar for new buildings.”

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Infrastructure for Cambridge City Council said: “The awards showcase the best that Greater Cambridge has to offer, in terms of both people and buildings. Each year, we continue to see innovation and excellence. Our officers work hard in partnership with owners, architects, and local communities to ensure good design is appropriate to its local context.”

Alison Wring, chair of the CFCI, said: “CFCI’s involvement in these awards recognises our region’s finest organisations and individuals in the construction industry, who all share a united passion for exemplar quality developments alongside long-lasting sustainable legacies. All finalists and winners deserve to be proud of their achievements and their impact, not only to the benefit of Cambridgeshire, but best practice within the industry as a whole”

Judges’ Comments

Best new neighbourhood Winner - Ironworks

“The Ironworks project involved continuous engagement with the local community throughout, informing many small changes and mitigations to the plan. The outcome is a mix of streets and spaces having different characters, and new homes with varying typologies, alongside a large central green space is for children’s play, access to nature and management of water. While still in its early development, we believe it has the potential to provide a coherent and lively new neighbourhood in Cambridge, building on Mill Road’s origins and spirit, while making a significant contribution to local housing need.”

Best new building (under £2m construction costs)  Winner – 51-53 Argyle Street

“This project had a strong design-led approach (including decorative brickwork and sensitive placing and sizing of windows), creating two charming and contemporary new homes from both the exterior and interior perspectives.”

Commendation - The Boathouse

“The Boathouse is a Japanese-inspired, beautiful timber construction which is prominently placed on the Cam and provides a timeless, striking and functional structure in this visually sensitive location. It was designed and hand-built by a team of passionate craftsmen, who were determined to use no metal in its construction. All the, often complex, joints are pegged with wood, also using an unusual gun to fire hardwood pegs into the larch.”

Best new building (over £2m construction costs) Winner - Homerton Dining Hall

“This stunning addition to Cambridge’s now largest college provides a benchmark for what can be done through an ambitious multi-dimensional brief, a sympathetic and visionary architect, a deeply engaged client and a highly skilled construction/delivery team. The use of colour both externally and internally is bold and striking throughout and there are stunning views into and out of the building in all directions. The building glows at night. Homerton wants to be recognised both as a Cambridge College and a college like no other, and the Hall reflects that vision well.”

Commendation – University of Cambridge West Hub

“The building comprises two cafes with a large kitchen, a shop, library, multiple personal workspaces of different characters, and lecture/teaching rooms of different sizes. Its aim was to facilitate interdisciplinary interchange, provide attractive spaces for work and leisure, and to be physically and emotionally transparent, welcoming people in with no card access or other constraint. We were delighted to see it absolutely heaving, with huge queues for lunch and the workspaces well occupied – clearly a popular and much valued resource.”

Commendation - Lucy Cavendish College

“This is a terrific project with a fantastic brief which has established high standards and clear ambition for this rapidly expanding college. It has effectively normalised exemplary environmental and inclusivity ambitions for buildings of this kind.”

Best conservation, alteration or extension of an existing building (under £2m construction costs) Winner – St. Denis, East Hatley

“This is a delightful and heart-warming project. St Denis’ Church was closed and stripped out in the 1960s, and left to become almost derelict, smothered in ivy and structurally unsafe. Taken on by the Friends of Friendless Churches and with strong community support, it has finally received the attention it deserved. The Church has been transformed, given new life and added value for the local community. We found the enthusiasm from and engagement with the local community particularly inspiring, and hope the Church will be used for many events now that is has been brought back to life from the very brink.”

Best conservation, alteration or extension of an existing building (over £2m construction costs) Winner – The Entopia Building

“This is a clear winner, showing how retrofit and refurbishment can, with determination and skill, achieve extraordinarily high environmental standards. All parties: the client, architect and contractors are commended for not only setting but maintaining the vision for an exemplary and game-changing approach. The aim from the start was to feel normal while being deep green. The process has been recorded and operating standards are being closely monitored with the aim that others can both copy and better it.”

Commendation – St. Catharine’s Dining Hall

“We highly commend this project, which has radically improved the way the college operates, replaced an unsatisfactory dining hall with a beautiful new space, and created a much more coherent and accessible means of circulation in St Catharine’s College. The pre-existing dining hall had been built as part of a 1960s extension, which had never functioned well, with the kitchens isolated from the rest of the college and huge logistical challenges in circulation. Gort Scott have devised an extremely ingenious solution, replacing the hall, connecting the kitchens and opening up new avenues of circulation by the installation of an atrium.”

David Mackay Award for engineering and sustainability Winner – Entopia

“For its leadership in demonstrating what can be achieved in retrofitting challenging buildings.”


St. Catharine’s College - “for aligning delicate adaptations to an existing building with an in-situ concrete building”

Lucy Cavendish College - “for ‘normalising’ high environmental standards.”

Homerton College Dining Hall – “for its deep commitment to creating a green building”

Craftsmanship Award

Joint Winner - The Boathouse

“The Boathouse, for its extraordinary skill, hand craftsmanship and beauty. It was designed and hand-built by a team of passionate craftsmen, who were determined to use no metal in its construction.”

Joint Winner – Homerton College Dining Hall

“An inclusive, welcoming space that sets a standard environmentally and visually. The new Hall directly abuts the College’s only listed building, the Ibbeson Building, built in 1914 in the Arts and Crafts style, so it draws on that tradition while being a bold, contemporary addition to the College site. Its echoes and indeed reflections of the existing Great Hall stitch the new building into its setting.”

Commendation – Entopia

“This project demonstrates the very best qualities of craftsmanship to achieve the potentially conflicting sustainability certification standards of Enerphit, BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Gold. The team took a fabric first approach, with a commitment to a circular economy and re-using/recycling materials wherever possible. This extends to fit out (including lighting) and furnishings, 65% of which are recycled, and others use innovative materials including hemp and crushed paper.”

Contractor Award Winner – Hill Investment Partnerships (Colville Road and Iron Works)

“It was clear how engaged Hill Investment Partnerships were in all aspects of the schemes, from community liaison to making appropriate modifications as the schemes progressed. In particular at Colville Road we heard how experimentation and learning led to the adoption of better environmental standards, which will be applied to future projects.”

Commendation – SDC (Lucy Cavendish College)

“There was evidently close and positive collaboration between the client, architect and contractors throughout this project, resulting in a building that was good value for money, whilst delivering certified Passivhaus.“