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National infrastructure commsion reveals gallery of final design concepts for the Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition

The National Infrastructure Commission and Malcolm Reading Consultants have revealed the four final design concepts for The Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition in an online gallery.

Launched in June, the competition sought inspirational yet achievable visions for future development of this key economic area, covering Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford. Finalists focused on integrating infrastructure and development to create sustainable and liveable places appropriate to the corridor.

Finalists’ ideas for enhancing the corridor include a new National Park; an archipelago of linked, distinctive and compact places; a series of ecologically-rich urban campuses; and a reimagining of the 21st-century village.

From today, the four finalists’ strategic design concepts for development growth will be showcased in a digital gallery at https://competitions.malcolmreading.co.uk/cambridgeoxfordconnection/shortlist. There is also an opportunity to submit comments on each scheme proposed, at cambridgeoxfordconnection@malcolmreading.co.uk

The four shortlisted teams – led by Barton Willmore, Fletcher Priest Architects, Mae, and Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design – were selected by a jury of thought-leaders in infrastructure, economics, design and placemaking, and announced in August.

The winner of the competition is expected to be announced next month.

For the teams’ full concept summaries, please see the Notes to Editors. In brief, their key themes (in alphabetical order by team lead name) are:

• Barton Willmore developed The CaMKoX Innovation Hive Delivery Guide – not a fixed masterplan but an approach that envisages organic growth within communities, delivering not just homes but vibrant places to support innovation and business creation. A carefully guided approach to encourage communities to acquire a rich urban form and varied sense of place. Situated within a new National Park, the proposals set a new benchmark for development that enhances the natural environment.

• Fletcher Priest Architects developed the Mid-Vale Archipelago, a constellation of linked, distinctive and compact places set within a continuous landscape. They propose ‘middle sites’ between the corridor’s major urban centres that combine the best of village life with the critical mass of larger towns while preserving and enhancing landscape character. The desire for beneficial relationships between existing and new communities is central – along with a patient approach to delivery that prioritises long-term capital benefits over short-term windfall returns.

• Mae developed Urcadia – an ecologically rich urban settlement for the Just About Managing, the Yes-in-my-back-yards, the Millennials, and Generation Rent in the form of a ‘New Living Campus’. Their proposal combines the intensity and density of a city with the pastoral richness of the English countryside enhanced for leisure use, health and well-being and food production. New construction technologies facilitate economic housing for a generation suffering from no realistic prospect of owning a home.

• Tibbalds Planning & Urban Design developed VeloCity, a unique region in the UK that is no longer reliant on the car, supported by an integrated road-and-rail transport strategy linked to a network of local, medium and longer distance cycle routes. Focusing on six villages situated to the south-east of one of the new stations on the Oxford to Cambridge rail link, VeloCity reimagines the 21st-century village.

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