It is rewarding to have the opportunity to be Cambridge architects involved in the extremely diverse range of properties in Cambridge and its surrounding villages. We work on all kinds of residential architecture projects in Cambridge. Talk to us about enhancing and making the most of your Cambridge home because we bring local knowledge and contacts that will contribute to a successful project.
— Ian Harvey, Director, Harvey Norman Architects, Cambridge

As experienced cambridge architects here's our view on the cambridge attraction

Cambridge has everything from flats to terraced Victorian and Edwardian housing in the centre through to large family houses on the edge of the city. It has serious curb appeal as a cosmopolitan, electric and vibrant city and is a highly desirable place to live. In fact, 20% of properties sold by one of the largest estate agents are to people relocating to Cambridge. As well as greater London interest, the city is also favoured by foreign investors, with 17% of buyers in the Cambridge market being international. 

The popularity of Cambridge has been driven by several factors:

  • The success of its economy.
  • High-skilled employment opportunities offered in the tech, biotech and medical industries.
  • The world-famous University of Cambridge and other education establishments. Apparently there are currently more Nobel prizes winners living in Cambridgeshire than the whole of France!
  • Cambridge commuters can reach London Kings Cross station by direct train in just forty minutes with trains running every half an hour. Cambridge is also connected to London via the M11 and is located midway on the A14 corridor which connects the Midlands to Felixstowe and Europe beyond.
  • The availability of heath care, both state and private schools and open countryside just a short distance from the centre of the city means that the quality of life available is high

Parts of Cambridgeshire are frequently listed in the The Great Britain Rural Areas Quality of Life survey from the Halifax. See the 2015 list here


A cambridge architects view on the growth of the cambridge property market

Growth has been so fast that by 2022 the population of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire is likely to be 33% higher than it was at the start of the century.

However, competition is great and supply of housing is low. The supply of Cambridge properties is low because up until the 1960’s there was a policy of containment and restriction on new development both inside Cambridge and in the surrounding villages, including the imposition of a green belt around the city. This green belt is still in force and as a result, finding self-build infill plots in Cambridge villages is highly competitive.

The result of this high competition and low supply is high property prices in Cambridge. The median sale price for a Cambridge house in 2014 was £350,000, up from £70,000 in 1995. This increase of 400% was the biggest national rise outside of London.

This kind of pricing is forcing people who want to get on the property ladder and growing families who are seeking bigger, better value properties to move away from the immediate city area. As a consequence, places around Cambridge, to the North (like Ely), to the East (like St Neots) and West (like Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds) are also becoming ever more sought after. 

To try and alleviate this pressure in a controlled manner that does not destroy the very environment and unique identity people find desirable, politicians have devised a programme of new urban extension infill expansion on the outer edges of Cambridge city. Entirely new greenfield settlements such as Cambourne and Longstowe outside the city limits are underway. The idea is to provide a large range of new contemporary apartments and townhouses of varying sizes.

As Cambridge architects, Harvey Norman have developed extensive contacts within the local property community. We keep an eye out for property development opportunities and are often asked to help our clients source land.


Talk to us, your local cambrige architects, about making the most of your cambridge property


overview of local and historical architecture styles and recommendations for making the most of your cambridge property

— the birth of cambridge city centre

Black - Medieval Cambridge

Black - Medieval Cambridge

Although there was pre-Roman activity it was the Romans who built the first settlement. Taking advantage of a crossing point they created a port on the northern bank of the River Cam. The area by Magdalene Bridge is still known as Quayside today.

For two millennia up to the 19th century, Cambridge was small and surrounded by a unenclosed land. Although there was pre-Roman activity it was the Romans who built the first settlement. Taking advantage of a crossing point they created a port on the northern bank of the River Cam. The area by Magdalene Bridge is still known as Quayside today.

After the Romans, there was a Saxon settlement with the Normans following on and building a castle. The subsequent medieval town to the South of the river is confined to an area bound by the river and what was known as the King’s Ditch, which ran in an arc from what is now known as Mill Lane to Jesus Green.

There was growth southwards in the 17th century, but Cambridge did not break its medieval constraints until the early 1800’s following the Enclosure Acts. However, the Commons flooded and were therefore left alone. This left both open inner and outer green rings which are still in evidence today.


enhance your local Cambridge city centre property with help from your local cambridge architects


— cambridge's grand georgian properties (1715 - 1810)

Black - Medievel Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge

Black - Medievel Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge

Georgian Cambridge (blue) developed to the South-east of the medieval city (black). Think of Petersfield and the Maid’s Causeway which contain a range of townhouses in the classic style of Georgian architecture.

Georgian Cambridge developed to the South-east of the medieval city. Think of Petersfield and the Maid’s Causeway which contain a range of townhouses in the classic style of Georgian architecture. There was also development in what are now the city villages of Trumpington and Grantchester (at the time these were separate villages). Many of the further outlying villages also have examples of Georgian rectories through to more modest houses.

The typical terraced Georgian townhouse developed from the need of the speculative builder to fit as many houses as they could on one street. So the Georgian townhouse in generally tall and narrow with a long thin gardens. Most had basements comprising of kitchens, stores and storage for coal. Today coal hole covers remain a feature on pavements.

From our experience as Cambridge architects, we have found that the most common type of Georgian properties in Cambridge are the medium and small sized classic terraced townhouses.

With restrained, proportioned and symmetrical facades, tall windows let in the light. The main entrances are placed to one side with fanlights above, and are the dominant feature of the front elevation. The property entrances also often feature wrought-iron work including front area railings. The plan is usually straightforward. Geometrically proportioned rooms are on each floor, one front and one back, with staircase to one side and chimney flues within party walls. 

In Cambridge the materials used were those to hand. Bricks were yellow Cambridge stocks laid in what is known as “Flemish” bond, in which the headers and stretchers alternate in each course.

As experienced local Cambridge architects these are our recommendations for enhancing Georgian houses in Cambridge

Georgian buildings make lovely, light, spacious family homes. Georgian properties in Cambridge offer:

  • Basements that can be converted
  • Space for rear extensions
  • Grandeur and high ceilings

Head height in Georgian roof spaces is more often than not quite low. The typical construction of a parapet wall and valley gutter means the whole roof moves inwards, so you may be less likely to have enough room for a loft conversion.

Generally, Georgian buildings are not listed. However, if there are a large number of Georgian properties in one location, they may be listed. Or the whole area could be designated a conservation area. If a house is listed or is in a conservation area, consent will be required and what you can do internally and externally will be restricted. 


enhance your georgian property with help from your local cambridge architects


— victorian houses in cambridge (1810 - 1870)

Black - M  edievel Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge

Black - Medievel Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge

Victorian Cambridge (cyan) mainly developed all around Medieval (black) and Georgian Cambridge (blue).

With the coming of the railway Cambridge was expanding fast. Its arrival fueled expansion as the town was no longer reliant on the river for transporting goods and the journey time to London was dramatically cut. 

In 1849, there was a great fire in Cambridge town center which resulted in serious rebuilding works. This propelled Cambridge to the fore as a major Victorian regional trading center.

As people flooded into the town it grew to the South-east. From 1850 Sturton Town was built on either side of Mill Road, up to the railway line and from the 1880’s Romsey Town grew up beyond it. By 1884 the census showed that over half the people living in Cambridge’s Romsey Town were not born in Cambridge but were there for work. Building also took place off Hills Road beyond Cherry Hinton Road, while North of the river, Huntingdon Road and Chesterton had new houses built.

All these factors have left a fantastic heritage of Victorian and Edwardian urban housing stock within walking distance of the centre of Cambridge and the railway station. These range from simple two up two down cottages through to larger terraced family houses and even grander town houses.

As a result of the inflow of people, it was high-density terraces which were cheap on land and materials which dominated until the early 1900s. Development was delineated by class. Working class districts were built side by side and close together. Think of the areas in the Romsey district of Cambridge east of Mill Road. The visible differences in this working class district are houses devoid of ornament, bay windows, moulded brickwork. Some details were added to larger terraces and these commanded more rent.

Cambridge architects - the larger Victorian style house

For the larger terrace, rather than the strict Georgian style with its emphasis on order via geometry and proportion, the Victorian period, pushed on by technology and greater supply of new building materials, saw a new importance placed on the picturesque and the irregular. Although in the 1850s and 1860s, the classical look fought its corner through the Italianate style (with shallow pitched roofs, eaves supported on brackets and pairs of round-headed windows), these newer Victorian styles and motifs were often freely applied in an eclectic mix. 

Key features of the mid-period Victorian terrace house

  • Houses became taller with additional rooms usually accommodated in new rear back additions.
  • A front door set to one side in pairs (rather than to the same side as in the Georgian period).
  • As mass produced glass became available, bay windows were introduced in the 1860s. Externally, they provided a picturesque quality and internally, they offered more space and light.
  • Roofs were pitched steeper and through the use of hips and gables, were embellished with elaborate wooden barge-boards, ornate ridge tiles and finials. Multi-storey bays were usually given their own steep roofs joined to the front pitch of the main roof.
  • Victorian houses became more alike due to standardised materials. 
  • Slate was still the most common roofing material and chimneys were regarded as a positive feature of the overall design. Chimneys were tall and decorative with projecting brickwork courses.
  • From the 1860s, ornamental brick and terracotta became fashionable for decoration. 

The four most common Victorian terraced house layouts found in Cambridge

Cambridge architects - the four most common Victorian terraced house layouts in Cambridge
  1. The more expensive house
  2. The less expensive house
  3. The small cottage
  4. The later development to the square cottage 
As Cambridge architects, we have developed much experience of refurbishing and extending these local Victorian property types. We recognise that buildings of this period, in areas such as Romsey, are inherently flexible.

150 years after they were first built they offer fantastic architectural opportunities to upgrade to contemporary urban living spaces close to Cambridge city centre.They have the character and charm of historic buildings, and when refurbished, they offer the luxuries of modern building technology, design and interiors to create contemporary stylish family homes.

As experienced local Cambridge architects these are our recommendations for enhancing Victorian houses in Cambridge

HNA - Cambridge architects suggested plans for modernising a Victorian terrace

Typically the Victorian L-shaped houses have a back addition leading into the garden. This leaves a dead unused dingy space to the side. Therefore, creating a side extension incorporating this space is an obvious answer. The result is more internal space without taking valuable space from the garden. With the inclusion of a glazed roof or roof lights you can flood the new space with natural light.

For those with more grand plans, Victorian properties can be extended across the back of the house and into the garden. Bold contemporary extensions are possible in a range of styles. You could even create a double-storey extension with a new bedroom above.

Glass is a brilliant way of bringing more light into your property. Glass can also help link habitable spaces with outside spaces, something that has become one of the defining characteristics in modern extensions. Sliding or sliding folding doors, large roof lights and even entire glass box constructions can be built.

Very often it is possible to create additional space via a loft conversion. We are great fans of the L-shaped dormer projecting over the rear back addition that is commonly found in Victorian properties. This kind of loft conversion can usually achieve not one but two extra rooms on the new second-floor level.




— late victorian houses in cambridge (1870 - 1901)

HNA - Cambridge architects - late Victorian period property
Towards the end of the Victorian era architects such as William Morris began to take inspiration from old farmhouses rather than old churches.

This was partly a reflection of social discontent created by poor living and working conditions. It was also a reaction towards the Victorian styles and to the perceived artificiality and ugliness of machine-made materials.

Developers picked up on this and saw an opportunity to differentiate and market their housing. Architects wanted to create buildings of simplicity and beauty based on an idealised medieval world which resulted in the Old English Revival and Arts and Crafts Movement. The result was the classic arts and craft house:

  • Distinctive roughcast render
  • Long casement windows
  • Low slung roofs
  • The use of green colour

Alongside this focus on aesthetics the Queen Anne style emerged. It was inspired by elements of the 17th-century Dutch house. It featured:

  • Dutch and Flemish gables (composite forms of curves and triangles)
  • Hipped roofs with prominent chimneys
  • Red brick and cut brick lintels
  • Painted white woodwork (beforehand windows were usually painted in dark colours)
  • Casement or sash windows with the upper parts sub-divided

The Queen Anne style became very popular, particularly with small developers. It could be replicated onto terraced houses easily and cheaply. In Cambridge, many examples of such late Victorian houses can be found to the West and South of Cambridge in the Newnham, Trumpington, Castle and Queen Edith’s areas.


enhance your late victorian property with your local cambridge architects


— edwardian houses in cambridge (1901 - 1920)

HNA - Cambridge architects - Edwardian house in Cambridge
There are a few isolated pockets of Edwardian houses on the edges of Cambridge, such as Hills Road, Newnham, Great Shelford and the Castle area.

The Edwardian period was one of significant social change that may have gone further had not WW1 intervened. As a result of the social reforms of the previous 50 years, life was much improved for the average person. For example, further technological developments had improved sanitary arrangements, including trapped and ventilated house drains and the inclusion of bathrooms at first-floor level. 

What emerged was better quality terraced houses. Villas developed within a terrace. This provided homes for the upwardly mobile. Although built by small builders employing local construction methods and material they still exhibited considerable local and regional variety. These were typically laid out as before, in straight streets with little open space.

Key features of Edwardian properties in Cambridge

  • Influenced by the Arts and Craft movement with pebble dashed walls and mock timber gables.
  • Hanging red tiles and terracotta decorations.
  • Front doors with stained glass reflected Art Nouveau and Arts and Craft fashions.
  • Continuous highly decorated porches across the whole facade.
  • Casement windows made a come back and started to replace sash windows.
  • Houses were taller and deeper than a century before.
  • Ceilings were lower.
  • Chimney stacks were built directly over the fireplace so the chimney emerged halfway down the slopes of the roof rather than at the ridge.

However, although there was a national building boom at the turn of the century, Cambridge had little Edwardian stock built in this period. There are a few isolated pockets of Edwardian houses on the edges of Cambridge, such as Hills Road, Newnham, Great Shelford and the Castle area. 


enhance your edwardian property with your local cambridge architects


— the popularity of the semi to the north of cambridge (1930's)

HNA - Cambridge architects - 1930s semi
In Cambridge, the 1930s semi house styles established themselves in West Chesterton, Arbury, to the East of the Castle area and in King’s Hedges.

Between WW1 and WW2 suburban inter-war housing turned its back on the high-density of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It sought a new way of life - home ownership in polite leaf-lined streets. It took some inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement but relied on mass production to be inexpensive.

In Cambridge, such styles established themselves in West Chesterton, Arbury, to the East of the Castle area and in King’s Hedges. Whilst the majority of houses being built in England were once again looking back to historical periods in European modernism, Cambridge itself has several one-off examples of both Moderne and Art Deco “Hollywood Modern.” Meanwhile, both in North-east Cambridge and in the surrounding villages the Local Authority was erecting council house estates of plain brick terraces. These were no frill semis for returning veterans, “Homes for Heros”.

Key features of 1930s semi properties in Cambridge

HNA - Cambridge architects - typical Cambridge 1930s semi property plans

The 1930 house was designed for smaller families. They also needed to be manageable and labour saving and therefore had fewer rooms. These houses were smaller than pre-war house but the plots were wider and deeper. Typical features are:

  1. Two storey, three-bed semi with gardens at the back and front
  2. Some have attached garages with shared driveways
  3. Rectangular in layout
  4. Steeply pitched roofs
  5. Tall chimneys
  6. Bay windows
  7. External mock Tudor timber beams
  8. Front door sheltered by a porch
  9. Stained glass panels
  10. Wider entrance halls
  11. Turning stairs with Jacobean newel post and panelled bannister

As experienced local Cambridge architects these are our recommendations for enhancing Semi properties in Cambridge

HNA - Cambridge architects - plans to modernise a 1930s semi house in Cambridge

1930’s homes are excellent properties to extend particularly to the side, rear and even up into the loft. You can easily add on two rooms to the ground floor. If you have the budget a further two rooms can be added above and that is before you go up into the loft.

As the original kitchen area was painfully small and unlikely to service a modern 21-century family, the ground floor extension plan typically extends the kitchen, adding two rooms with a central dividing partition wall. A new door from the entrance hall can lead into a front a study, home office, playroom or whatever is desired. The new room at the back is added to the kitchen as a utility area or shower room or left to make the kitchen even bigger.



— mid century modern post war housing in cambridge (1945 - 1960's)

Black - Medieval Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge; brown - 20th century Cambridge

Black - Medieval Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge; brown - 20th century Cambridge

After 1946 local authority house building had resumed pace. In private developments there was a greater variety of styles and types of dwellings.

Cambridge was spared the ravages of the World War II bombing. Unlike Oxford which had industrialisation imposed on it by the car plant at Cowley, Cambridge developed a mostly residential regional town with a pleasant green environment.

After 1946 local authority house building had resumed pace. In private developments there was a greater variety of styles and types of dwellings. Houses of the 1950's and 1960's started to acquire a period character of their own.

Key features of mid century modern housing in Cambridge

  • Linked garages, integrated with the main house,
  • Some entrance halls were spacious and well lit with long vertical or low horizontal windows, and overlooked by ‘gallery’ landings,
  • Interiors incorporated L-shaped open living areas with space for a dining area at one end and French windows leading to a paved seating area and garden.
  • Sometimes kitchens had a dining space included so they became family rooms. These kitchens had an emphasis on the luxury fitted kitchen including stainless steel sink and worktops
  • A W.C or small ‘study’ were included in the ground floor plan.

Exterior styling varied, but there were common characteristics that give sixties housing its individual identity.

HNA - Cambridge architects - post war, mid century modern house in Cambridge
  • Plain wall surfaces with large typical rectangular ‘picture’ windows. These windows usually had robust wooden frames with opening top lights. 
  • Front doors had small glazed panels, usually with rippled glass while light colour woodwork was painted either white, pale sky blue or primrose yellow. 
  • There were some flat roofs but the typical sixties house had a low pitched 22-degree roof with a gable end finished with a prominent but unadorned white barge board. Roof tiles were concrete of brown or grey.
  • Although red brick walls were used, grey, light brown, or buff coloured bricks were often preferred. 
  • Concrete claddings of tiles and white painted boarding applied between the ground and first windows continued into the 1970s.

The inspiration for some houses came from Scandinavian properties with their steeply pitched roofed front gables clad with vertical timbers or tiles. The same aesthetic continued in the interior with pine paneled kitchens and ceilings. Also popular as neo-Georgian style with red brick walls, pedimented porches, small paned windows and fake louvred shutters. A bigger version was called ‘Colonial’ with double garages under a collonaded front elevation incorporating bow windows and concrete containers.

HNA - Cambridge architects - Scandinavian inspired post war housing in Cambridge

Early in the sixties, most new houses were built with central heating. Sometimes an open fireplace was kept as a feature with end gable flue prominent or at least clad in stone. In the later 1960s, ‘Cotswold’ stone fireplaces were popular. Back boilers able to heat up to three radiators and a towel rail were housed in the grate. After 1960 oil fired central heating was adopted.

In Cambridgeshire, this period saw the development of many bungalows. Once again these were on large plots and very often, planning and structural constraints allowing, can have additions added with ease.

As experienced local Cambridge architects these are our recommendations for enhancing mid century modern houses in Cambridge

Unfashionable and undervalued, mid century houses are often a hidden opportunity. With the price of houses and building plots in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire becoming exorbitant many forward thinking people are turning to mid-century 1960’s and 19760’s homes that offer excellent redevelopment potential. They are normally well built, sit on large plots and can be transformed with just a little imagination.

Almost anything is possible in terms of redesign, from contemporary to traditional, limited only by cost and planning constraints. As local Cambridge architects we believe the key is to come up with a concept that:

  1. Makes the most of these Cambridge property’s virtues
  2. Hides their weaknesses
  3. Makes sure cost does not exceed added value.

To replace or enlarge and remodel?
Many of these houses are too good for demolition. Very often the existing value of the property is too high. Even with the 0% VAT saving of a new build it can be hard to make demolition and a rebuild financially viable. With permitted development policy usually allowing enlargement of 30% of the original volume, a lot can be done. Even when replacement seems to make sense financially, it is important to assess the benefits of additional space that could be achieved through enlargement and remodeling.

Key design elements 

1. Building form

The best starting point is to explore options that utilise the buildings existing form. Houses with a low roof pitch lend themselves to a contemporary solution while a steeper roof pitch may suggest a more traditional approach.

2. Siting

The way the building sits on the plot is another major consideration. This should inform the best positioning for any additional new space, making the most of the building and its characteristics, orientation, views, screening from the elements, privacy, access and topology.

3. Architectural detail

The key here is to create a concept which is coherent with the whole building.

  1. Roof coverings
    Planning permission is not usually required to recover a roof with new materials providing the roof is not raised by more than 100mm which allows for over the rafter insulation. Changing your roof is not cheap so is best avoided on budget schemes.
    1. Contemporary styles – options include timber shingles and metal roofing such as powder coated steel, zinc or copper. For flat roofs modern single ply membranes that are heat welded have a long life span. 
    2. Traditional styles – selection of materials should be based on the overall concept. The roof pitch also has to be taken account of, particularly on low pitches. Overlapping slates can not be used below 250 and plain clay tiles not below 350. 
  2. Windows and doors
    The first thing is to consider the size and shape of the window and door openings and how they relate to the overall concept. In most cases, openings can be altered through permitted development.

    For more contemporary designs, larger windows with minimal or concealed frames are an important design feature. Frames may be powder coated metal or timber, clad externally in powder coated aluminium. Doors are usually timber and real interest can be added by using unconventional proportions.
  3. Wall cladding
    Cladding walls allows you to change the properties appearance, hide unsightly features and add external insulation.
    1. Render is a cost-effective option that is relatively thin and therefore, requires little if any alteration to openings or roof verges
    2. Thin sawn brick slips are low maintenance but labour intensive and therefore, relatively expensive
    3. Vertical and horizontal timber boarding are both popular and lightweight cladding materials that can be low maintenance options. They can be applied directly onto battens or over a new insulated timber frame structure. Typically timbers such as oak, sweet chestnut, cedar or European larch are used and left to weather.
    4. Metal such as powder coated steel, zinc or copper can be used vertically.



— public and private housing in cambridge (1965 - 1990's)

In the period of economic prosperity of the 1960’s, growth pressure again built up in Cambridge. One contributing factor was the construction of the M11. The response was to deflect the pressures to the existing market towns beyond the green belt, itself put in place in the 1950s, and the ring of villages. One concession was the creation of a new settlement beyond the green belt to the North-west at Bar Hill. This started a practice that has since continued - that of creating new villages around Cambridge rather than expanding existing villages too much, and destroying their character. 


the developing character of cambridge's surrounding villages

Villages around Cambridge both small and large have a strong historical and linear form though extensive modern estate developments have occurred in some villages. Some villages, such as Bassingbourn, are the result of the consolidation of older hamlets.
HNA - Cambridge architects - Cambridge surrounding villages
HNA - Cambridge architects - village greens

These linear villages widen out in places to include village greens, such as the large, oval green at Barrington and the smaller, triangular green at Heydon. A few villages, such as Little Shelford, have a rectangular form of a looser structure with some important open spaces. The village edges are varied, typically abutted by a mix of open fields, woodland, or smaller fields. Long back gardens also help to form a transition into the surrounding countryside.

The key characteristics of Cambridge's surrounding villages

  • Small villages, such as Thriplow and Litlington, are located on gentle slopes along spring lines, or on hilltops, like Great Chishill.
  • Other villages, such as Hildersham and Little Shelford are located within the river valleys on lower valley side slopes, sometimes related to crossing points and fords.
  • Enclosed meadows and parkland are important features of village settings in the river valleys.
  • Mostly well planted the villages have a tree lined character so they are often not visible in the wider landscape, despite adjoining open arable fields.
  • Avenue trees on wide road verges are characteristic of some approaches, such as in Fowlmere. 
  • There are many mature trees, both in front gardens and on the grass verges, together with streams and ponds, add to the rural character. 
  • Village greens are frequent, both small and large.
  • There is a mostly linear form to the settlements.
  • Buildings are either arranged as continuous frontage facing streets or have a much looser pattern with open land interspersed.
  • Properties have deep and narrow rear gardens.
  • A few isolated farm buildings are sited at track ends, often hidden by groups of mature trees or shelter belts.

Common buildings and materials used in Cambridge villages

HNA - Cambridge architects - Cambridge village architecture
HNA - Cambridge architects - barn conversion
  • Buildings are traditionally two storeys, simple and small in scale.
  • A few, large, two and a half or three storey eighteenth and nineteenth-century houses occur in some villages.
  • A variety of materials are used in walls, including plastered timber-frame constructions (weatherboard or roughcast render on laths) clunch, clay bat, knapped flint, plain gault brick, red and yellow gault brick.
  • Farm buildings are typically black-tarred weatherboarding.
  • Colours of buildings are generally light and warm, often pale cream, but some are painted pale pink or yellow and, occasionally, earthy red.
  • Roofs of vernacular buildings are typically of long straw thatch and plain clay tiles and pantiles, with some more recent use of Welsh slate and reed thatch.
  • Plastered timber-framed building details include high-pitched roofs, drip-boards set in the gable ends and over windows, four or six paneled or planked doors and chimneys set laterally on the ridge to roofs.
  • Eighteenth and nineteenth-century house details include low-pitched roofs, vertical sliding sash windows set in deep reveals over shallow stone sills, with gauged or segmented brick arched lintels and chimney stacks incorporated within the building at the gables.
  • Both low and high flint boundary walls are common, some with red brick detailing. Clipped hedges and simple picket fences also provide boundary features. Occasionally simple iron railings are associated with larger houses.
  • Many of the twentieth-century estates do not respond to the local vernacular.

enhance your cambridge village property with help from your local cambridge architects


cambridge city and properties in the new millennium (1990 - 2015)

Black - Medieval Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge; brown - 20th century Cambridge; orange - New millennium Cambridge

Black - Medieval Cambridge; blue - Georgian Cambridge; cyan - Victorian Cambridge; brown - 20th century Cambridge; orange - New millennium Cambridge

Post 2000 much more high-density development has taken place with an emphasis on creating places, not just homes. A high-density modern is again in vogue.

If up to the 1990’s the concept had been restricting the growth of Cambridge via containment, post 1990 the emphasis was to attempt to solve the problems of employment, housing and transport containment had helped create.

As a reaction to the mid-century modern, initially in the 1990s the house building industry’s architectural response was very safe with a return to traditional values. In Cambridge this is demonstrated in places like the new green field villages of Cambourne where there is a return to the eclecticism of the interwar period semi. The Cambourne marketing slogan sums it up, “Inspired by the past, built for the future”.

However, post 2000 much more high-density development has taken place with an emphasis on creating places, not just homes. A high-density modern is again in vogue.

The 12 districts of Cambridge

HNA - Cambridge architects - Cambridge in 2015
Today the city comprises of twelve districts, each with a unique character, each influenced by factors such as housing availability, demographics and proximity to transport needs, schooling and employment.

Newnham, where property is highly sought after, lies just West of Cambridge city centre. In effect the residents are still living in the city but it retains a unique village atmosphere. It is made up of smart two and three bed-roomed Victorian terraces, some with extensive gardens and larger Edwardian semis.

South of the city, there are several areas offering Victorian and Edwardian properties with up to six bedrooms. This area includes the Hills Road and Queen Edith's which are both close to Addenbrooke's Hospital and the railway station. To the West, Cherry Hinton offers modern semis and detached houses on estate developments.

West of Queen Edith’s, Trumpington Road has large houses in mature grounds and the village of Trumpington has a range of 1930s' detached homes, good local shops and a recently expanded Waitrose supermarket. It is also the site of the most advanced new urban extension with contemporary high-density housing which means the area is fast changing.

To the North of central Cambridge is the Petersfield area with its high-quality townhouses and Grade II-listed Victorian detached townhouses. There are also recently built modern high-density penthouses along the River Cam, properties with fantastic views over Midsummer Common and Victorian five and six-bedroomed townhouses overlooking the river.

Off Milton Road, Chesterton has some modern terraced housing and four-bedroomed Victorian semis, some overlooking Jesus Green and the river. Running through the area are larger three and four-storey style housing with large gardens.


As your Cambridge architects we have experience and knowledge of these Cambridge districts



HNA - Cambridge architects - villages surrounding Cambridge

Villages South of Cambridge

Grantchester, haunt of the poet Rupert Brooks just to the South of the city has easy access to the M11. It is a sought after small village with shops, two pubs and a church. It attracts many tourists and walkers on summer days. Properties here are older, including Victorian terraces with views across the meadows.

Great Shelford is made up of mostly older properties. It includes shops, a deli, a new library, a school and a rail link.

Stapleford, on the Magog Hills, also has some sought-after period detached properties with frontage onto the River Granta.

Linton, ten miles South-East, is an attractive village with local schools and shops and a range of property dating from the 1930s onwards.

Melbourn is another desirable large village in the area. It is self sufficient with primary and secondary schools, a rail link, shops and science park. Older properties are in the centre with more modern builds on the outer fringes.

Six miles South is Whittlesford, a compact location with a village green and some quality housing stock. It shares a rail link with the neighbouring Duxford, which has attractive period cottages, a school and some contemporary housing developments to the North of Duxford.

Sawston is the largest village in South Cambridgeshire and is two miles from the M11. It is made up of Victorian cottages, semis and large detached properties, mostly with large gardens and open views over wooded farmland. There is a broad range of newer housing styles here as well. The village has excellent local shops and schools.


Enhance you property in the south of cambridge with help from your local cambridge architects

Villages West of Cambridge

Barton is home to the Burwash Manor Barns which has a butcher, organic grocer, tea rooms, wine merchant and other stores which attracts visitors from across Cambridgeshire. Centered around a village pond it has two pubs a post office and local shop. Housing is both historic and modern.

Comberton offers a blend of old style and more modern properties and the village is home to Comberton Village College, a highly regarded school. It is a village for those wanting a village lifestyle a short distance from the city centre. Comberton is a 30 minute cycle from the centre on dedicated cycle routes. 

Hardwick is a traditional popular village five miles from the city. It has an excellent selection of contemporary housing together with local shops and schools.

The new urban extension village of Cambourne is situated eight miles to the West of the city. It has over 3,000 homes, a business park, schools, shops and a leisure center. It is set out into three separate concept villages, Lower, Upper and Greater Cambourne, each centered on a village green. Cambourne has a variety of contemporary housing in a wide variety of styles. The village has good bus routes, providing a 20–30 minute commute to the city.

Nearby are the villages of Papworth Everard, with several modern developments offering a whole range of property sizes. Also Caldecote, with executive estates of three, four and five bed-roomed homes.

The A14, towards Huntingdon, is lined with attractive villages like Dry Drayton, four miles North-west of the city, where there are historic and modern large homes. Further along is Bar Hill with a population of around 4,500. It is a 1960s village with a primary school. Large homes back onto the golf course and the retail park includes a sizeable retailers like Tesco and Next with other smaller retailers. The village of Fenstanton has thatched cottages whilst in Hilton the majority of housing is older with 1970s detached bungalows and a selection of modern detached homes overlooking the historic green.


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Villages North of Cambridge

Girton, just outside Cambridge, is located on the Huntingdon Road with large Victorian and Edwardian homes. It will also be home to the new North-west Cambridge University Development, another of the new urban extensions.

Milton, just North of the city, has many modern housing developments and a Tesco's. The small village of Over, seven miles North-west has shops and a primary school. Also the period village of Willingham, which boasts a modern development of three and four bedroomed detached properties.

16 miles north of Cambridge is Ely with a population of 14,500 and its iconic cathedral as a visual landmark visible for miles around. The town has become a popular center for commuting into Cambridge. It has some fantastic medieval and Georgian buildings. The river and green areas only add to the atmosphere. It has a mainline station and a shopping centre with both a Waitrose and Tesco. The famous King’s School is also in the city. Ely is growing and has a good selection of property. It is good value for those wanting to live in a pleasant location with good transport but unable to pay the prices of Cambridge. Central Ely has period terraced cottages, particularly Waterside, leading to the river and embankment. Here, the three-storey townhouses are particularly popular. Large Victorian and Edwardian houses line the main roads leading into the village. There is also modern development in Ely, much of it between the centre and the ring road.


enhance your property in the north of cambridge with help from your local cambridge architects

Villages East of Cambridge

Swaffham Prior is located on the B1102 and is a quaint historic town. Along the same road Burwell has a selection of modern homes mixed in with old properties. In Fulbourn you'll find a mixture of old and new properties with good local shopping, a rail link and a primary school.


enhance your property in the east of cambridge with help from your local cambridge architects


other major towns NEAR CAMBRIDGE

HNA - Cambridge architects - towns near Cambridge

Halfway between Ely and Newmarket is Soham. It is quite an industrial town (population around 9,000) with a mix of property, local shopping and road access. Newmarket has an agreeable feel and is the well-known racing centre, making it busy during race meetings and horse sales. 

Bury St Edmunds is a historic gem of a market town with a rich heritage, combining medieval architecture, elegant Georgian squares and the Cathedral and Abbey gardens. It has modern shopping, an award-winning market plus a variety of attractions. It provides a range of housing types from over the last 150 years.

Fourteen miles South-west of Cambridge, Royston which is about ten miles from the A1 and the M11. It has a broad range of properties, some dating back to the 17th century. It also has larger houses including those built during the 1960s, 1970s and on a big development constructed in the 1980s. In fact, there are several estates of contemporary homes in and around Royston.

In the West, Huntingdon and Godmanchester have a wide selection of shops and good road and rail connections. Both offer a full range of properties, varying from one bed-roomed flats up to five bed-roomed detached houses. 

St Neots (population over 27,000) is the largest town in Cambridgeshire after Cambridge. It has one of the country’s largest market squares and a range of sizes of modern homes. Nearby on the Lakeside development, in Little Paxton and the Eynesbury Manor development, next to the River Ouse. Access to Cambridge is accessible from St Ives via the A14. St Ives itself is a pleasant market town (population 16,000) which sits on the banks of the River Ouse next to an attractive quay and marina.


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