Marmalade Lane – Cambridge

A viable alternative to prevalent forms of characterless profit-led housing

Project Name: Marmalade Lane

Company: Stora Enso

Sector: Residential

Technology: CLT


The first cohousing community was established nearly 50 years ago in 1972 in Saettedammen, Denmark north of Copenhagen. The 27 founding families shared a desire to live more communally with respect of the environment, sharing facilities as well as having their own private spaces. Young families could bring up their children in a safe, close knit community, while retired residents would not be isolated. Since then the ethos behind this community-led housing development has spread across Europe and the world. It is slowly establishing itself as a viable alternative to prevalent forms of characterless profit-led housing in the UK.

Cohousing communities are most prominent in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. In the UK there are only 21 completed cohousing schemes but there are more than double this number in development, so it is a growing trend in social housing and judging by the success of Marmalade Lane these numbers could increase, if opportunities are seized and land made available.

Marmalade Lane consists of 42 homes with 1 to 5 bedrooms arranged in 3 terraces and a 3 storey block of flats. The arrangement of the terraces and the block of flats around communal spaces is another key to the success of the design. Customisation was a critical component of the brief from the outset and early engagement with the co-housing team allowed the designers to take their layout selections forward into the development of the varied house designs.

The Common House, at the northern end of the block of flats, consists of a large hall and kitchen for gatherings, a laundry, guest bedrooms, along with a children’s room and 2 sitting rooms. All of these rooms provide much needed extra space for the needs of the community: whether you are looking for an extra room for visiting family or friends; a space to hold a birthday party; somewhere for a yoga class or to play ping-pong.

The Gardens and the Lane are vital outdoor shared amenity spaces that have areas for growing fruit and vegetables as well as a playground, seating areas and pathways to surrounding roads and transport links.

Trivselhus, a Swedish company specialising in prefabricated timber construction systems, were brought on board as the development partner at the outset by TOWN. The company’s high-performance prefabricated closed timber panel system was selected as the primary component for constructing the terraces.

The block of flats and community building adopted CLT as the structural solution, this was developed initially by Elliott Wood before being passed to specialist Eurban for construction phase design and on site installation, the CLT was manufactured by Stora Enso.

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