Our design for a new Heritage Centre at the heart of the major Northstowe development has been granted planning permission by Cambridgeshire County Council. The contemporary exhibition space will showcase artefacts discovered during the major archaeological excavation for Northstowe and the simultaneous A14 upgrade by National Highways. It will consolidate these with existing local heritage collections, to create a brand-new flagship heritage centre for the region.
Designed as a venue for school visits, on-site archaeological activities, and major heritage presentations, the Heritage Centre will have a distinct identity, influenced by local architecture and heritage, as well as the history of Northstowe and the surrounding area. It will also embody the core design values of Northstowe; a new town quarter built with innovative prefabrication techniques and passive environmental sustainability measures.
Referencing the neighbouring Northstowe House (a flagship office for Homes England, also designed by Proctor & Matthews) and the vernacular of Cambridgeshire black barns, the outer elevations will be clad in black corrugated metal, while the courtyard elevations will be lined in timber to provide a soft and natural finish. An external covered corridor, or loggia, will feature a distinctive contemporary timber trussed façade, loosely referencing both the cross-section of the Short Stirling aircraft wing – an aircraft once stationed at RAF Oakington - and the roof of the airfield hangars. The loggia will also provide an area for education visits, while offering solar protection and climate control of exhibition space within.
The Heritage Centre will feature a large sliding hangar door onto the landscape courtyard, and lofty internal spaces, housing an adaptable internal display area running the length of the building, to create a flexible and changing exhibition space that allows visitors to move sequentially through the space.
The building will adopt adaptive reuse strategies with the structure constructed from shipping containers using a modular construction technique, meaning it can be manufactured and assembled efficiently and sustainably, and potentially relocated to a new location at a later date. Construction is due to begin in June 2022 and complete in Autumn 2022.
Harrison Symonds, Associate at Proctor & Matthews said: “We are delighted to be moving forward with this exciting project which will provide a heritage and educational facility for the emerging Northstowe and Longstanton communities. Together with our recently completed flexible work and exhibition space for Homes England, the centre will begin to create a civic focus for the emerging new town centre.”