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'Science Cities' Report from Cambridge - Part Two

Above: Science park panel at Newnham Cambridge with (from left) Ed Hayden of Scott Brownrigg, Dr Wei Meng of TusPark Holdings (UK), Heather Fearfield of Future Cities Forum, Orestis Tzortzoglou of BioMed Realty and Eugene Sayers of Sheppard Robson

Future Cities Forum held its second panel debate in its science cities series at Newnham College, Cambridge this month, talking about how to design the science park of the future. Transport infrastructure challenges and reaching net zero goals was central to the debate.

Joining the panel were Orestis Tzortzoglou, Vice-President Development (UK), Biomed Realty, Ed Hayden, Director, Scott Brownrigg, Dr Mei Weng, Chief Operating Office, TusPark Cambridge and Eugene Sayers, Partner, Sheppard Robson.

Orestis was asked how he felt about the rate of progress of transport infrastructure in Cambridge:

'It is a missed opportunity if you don't capitalise on the potential of this city in terms of improve transport infrastructure. The business rates revenue goes into the central government purse and is being used for levelling up around the country but it is also important to re-invest some of it in thriving places such as Cambridge. How easy is it to deliver improved transport in a certain timescale? You cannot do it generally within one administration - it takes a long time to manifest. Here in Cambridge we have a proven ecosystem that can enable the investment in transport, but I ask myself why can't we be more ambitious here and then move that benefit elsewhere. If you don't grow the golden triangle in a sustainable way, Europe and the United States will catch up.

'Why when other European cities such as Basel have a well run tram system, cannot we have one here that uses the existing roads, that is sustainable, quiet and green. The financials are much more viable than the suggested metro system and we must think about how we connect services in the city centre and the tech world on the satellite parks. Our tenants have to commute to the North of Cambridge and future tenants will have to do the same in Cambridge South as it is developed. So how do we join the dots? We need to make the commute only about 20 minutes to make it viable. At the moment there is only one bus an hour to Granta Park, so what happens if you miss that?

'We need more cycle ways. In the past we have introduced punitive reductions in car park spaces but it is better to give people a choice in how they commute. We need to offer alternatives, safe segregated lanes. But what happens at the other end? How do we go beyond the basic provision of showers. We have started offering towels and toiletries to make life a lot easier. There will be days when you can cycle, weather permitting, and we accept other days when you will drive but it all helps to reduce reliance on the car. Our offer of dedicated commuter buses is also important.

'Despite the transport problems, as an investor we wouldn't leave Cambridge. It is tough to get in and these transport problems are not just issues for Cambridge but are replicated around the world. But we have to look at places where there are big investments in good transport infrastructure. Investors are looking for certainty and commitment and we need to be cross party conversations taking place.'

Above: CGI of landscaping at Cambridge International Technology Park (Scott Browrigg for BioMed Realty)

The discussion moved on to describing the evolution of the science park in design terms and what it might look like by 2050. Ed Hayden stated:

'We have seen the transformation of the science park as a car dominated place with a boundary round it. That was the previous model and we are now dealing with the 25 to 30 year legacy of that, while entering a period of re-imagining them leading up to around 2050. The re-design is developer led and to attract talent. It is people focused and creating a superior social environment. We still do have transport problems but I think car use will reduce over time.

At Fulbourn Road we have the existing Peterhouse tech park which is very dug in and built along next to that the ARM headquarters and another site to the west of that which we are working on. In addition, we are working with Orestis developing the new Cambridge International Technology Park to the east and taking forward a new vision around people and the end of journey. We are introducing cycle lanes and looking at those outdoor spaces.

'The advent of 5G means greater flexibility of where people can work - they are not desk bound anymore - so we are looking at collaborative spaces beyond the fabric of the building and asking where is the town square and how do people want to interact with nature? So we are developing multi-settings with a concern for net gain and dealing with surface water. There will be an ongoing investment in the environments that we are creating. Cambridge Science Park was an early adopter of landscaping and it feels very green. We want rain gardens for example that filter and disperse water and which lead to new wildlife habitats. With the British weather in mind, we are creating protected spaces to sit and work and post pandemic, I think we have all seen the benefits of being outdoors.'

Above: the Bradfield Centre, Cambridge Science Park at night - home to TusPark's offices (courtesy Cambridge Science Park / Trinity College Cambridge)

TusPark still believes there are questions to be answered about providing enough spaces for expanding science businesses in Cambridge

Dr Mei Weng said:

'There is an issue in Cambridge with space. We provide businesses with space and invest globally into incubators and then with an additional angle we have science park investment too. We provide tailored services and are fostering small businesses. We get enquiries all the time and we do not have enough capacity for space. Additionally, our existing tenants want to expand but again we don't have the space. Where can they go? We want to support them but have to refer them to other places. It is an issue.

'When we look at other cities like Newcastle in the UK, we want the levelling up investment programme to be working, but places like Cambridge have all the right elements. They have access to capital and talent and there are only a few places in Europe that have these elements, they cannot easily be replicated. So where do investors put their money? For entrepreneurs these are the places you want to start your company and it can be critical about transport - it has to work.'

TusPark Cambridge is the latest addition to TUS Holdings’ unique ‘Science Park + Incubation + Investment’ development model. With an investment of £200 million from TusPark, the landmark joint venture with Trinity College at the University of Cambridge was established in 2018. TusPark Cambridge consists of 350,000 square feet of office/lab space across five new buildings, including a state-of-the-art Bio-Innovation Centre – an environment that fuels creative and lateral thinking. From HQ style buildings for established businesses to incubator space for smaller companies on the move, TusPark is able meet a range of requirements.

Above: CGI of landscaping and new buildings at Silwood Science Park, Ascot - courtesy Sheppard Robson

The discussion panel was asked what type of environment works best for the growth of science companies and Eugene was asked about the masterplan for St John's and the upgrade for Silwood near Ascot in Berkshire:

'We are working on a lot of science parks and all are unique, some are industrial sites and some are university owned estates. Silwood benefits from being adjacent to Imperial College London but we looked at it aesthetically and it was dated with a car park in the middle, We needed to bring in a new landscape approach and move the parking to the back of the site. The existing heritage of the manor house was used to accentuate the sense of place. These places almost always need a new village green and they have to function as more than a science park and beyond the nine to five. St John's is in a place where the city is growing and becoming denser, so the park in less segregated and the value of place-making is very important here to attract people. Sometimes the question is whether we should knock existing buildings which are poor in quality down and at Silwood we did knock one down but clad others which had 1980's steel frames to make them produce better energy performance.

Eugene was asked whether science parks were genuinely keen to open out to the community and whether he felt the parks were better placed in our outside the city centre:

'I think science parks are genuine about bringing in the community. Some of our clients have practical security issues but generally there is a movement against being closed off. It is about activating places and allowing neighbours to feel they have a stake. You want to make these place attractive to the community and you want people to hang around longer throughout the day.

'Many science parks are on the outside of cities and they are not going away but have to fight with city-centre ones. It is no good sitting in a new research and development building unless you can get someone to sit with you. You have to find your USP and make the most of it. You have to have something else to offer, perhaps landscaping or a running track. There has been change after lockdown and the call for the softer stuff like higher quality interior design, something that is a bit closer to their homes and of course access to nature is very important.'

Silwood Science Park includes two new buildings—a Life Sciences Centre and pavilion café—and several radically retrofitted structures, all set within a new landscape design. For client Newcore Capital Management, Sheppard Robson's Silwood Science Park comprises a collection of buildings, located near Ascot and within the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. The overarching ambition creates a series of sustainable projects that create world-class space for growing research-led companies.

The three-storey Life Sciences Centre anchors the cluster of adjacent smaller refurbished research buildings. Organised as an office and laboratory block, the different spaces within are woven together by a central atrium that creates the social heart of the building. The external form is characterised by a glass fibre-reinforced concrete grid, with matte terracotta baguettes and sheets in between each element of the grid. The varying colours of the terracotta relate to the adjacent listed Manor House building, whilst complementing the woodland setting.

A single storey, circular pavilion cafe will be located at the heart of the Science Park, providing social space to the surrounding buildings and the wider neighbouring Imperial College London campus. The cafe will be constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and be clad in timber, incorporating a green roof to fit harmoniously within the enhanced landscape setting. The public realm will encourage interaction between the Science Park buildings and the wider campus, creating a new pedestrian route around the park.

The proposals include the major refurbishment of six two-storey 1980s buildings to make modern laboratory and workplace environments, significantly improving their thermal performance and reducing energy consumption of the buildings in use. Given the surrounding woodland and the drive for sustainable design principles, the proposals use sustainably sourced timber cladding to the retrofitted buildings, minimising the embodied carbon of the facades.

Above: Fred Pilbrow of Pilbrow & Partners (with his 'Three Magnets' illustration adapted for Begbroke Science Park's expansion) talking on housing panel alongside Ellie Evans of Volterra, Heather Fearfield of Future Cities Forum, Sian Nash of Wellcome Genome Campus and Simon Payne of Lambsquay Consulting

The development of appropriate and connected housing for science cities was the topic of our third panel at Newnham College, Cambridge this month.

Joining the panel were Sian Nash, Assistant Chief Operating Officer, Wellcome Genome Campus & Sanger Institute, Fred Pilbrow, Managing Partner, Pillbrow & Partners, Ellie Evans, Managing Partner, Volterra and Simon Payne, Lambsquay Consulting of Cambridge.

The panel discussion started with a question on how can we develop imaginative places to live without resorting to a tick box of facilities that are standard and make for anonymity?

Wellcome's Hinxton campus expansion is a mixed-use development that sets out to provide new R&D space and housing. As part of the approved master-plan there will be up to 1500 new homes for campus-linked workers, 150,000 square metres of research and translation floor space, 2.7 hectares of public common and 16 acres of new woodland as well as other amenities.

Sian commented:

'Our developers are Urban and Civic and they are really people orientated. We are concerned to gather information from people living at and near our sites, asking about their concerns and this is then reflected back in our plans. Part of our thinking is to create incredibly flexible spaces for people to live in. So for instance if you are working on a genome sequencing experiment, you might want to set the project going and then leave it to sequence for seven or eight hours, go home or use other facilities on site and then return to work again. So that is the way we are designing our spaces.

One way that we help to shield communities from our developments is to create buffer zones, Sixty per cent of our site is green open space with forest being planted between us and the local community. The green wildness of the site is an important part of the way we attract talent but also create a buffer. We are a large development so it is only right that we do this, We are also creating pedestrian and cycle ways through it to connect to the community as well,

'In terms of how we are developing the pattern of housing on site, we decided to put our traditional family housing clustered at one end and the flats much closer to work areas and cafes. We have a mixture of people working on the campus and we have property that can be sold or let with thirty per cent affordable homes. We have eighty three different nationalities on site and it can be quite transient as a place, so it is right that we have a flexibility model of development.'

Above: Wellcome Genome campus expansion at Hinxton - CGI from Wellcome / Urban & Civic

The discussion turned to the way villages in Cambridge could be developed to ensure enough housing is being built. Ellie explained:

'We really need to get away from being scared of growth in the UK and we need to build on our successful places in Cambridge. We need more homes but we also need jobs so that we can all be productive and deliver tax revenues to pay for services. We are competing with places like Boston for talent attraction and we need to look at garden villages, green belt and our planning of developments. We need a more coherent and wider spread plan where we can deliver housing at scale.

'People get worried about the idea of building on fields but development here could contribute to better open spaces for health and wellbeing. There is a lot of value to be unlocked through Section 106. Through our projects we are looking at carrying out housing in Manchester and Oxfordshire and landowners want stuff to be build on their sites. They say to us if you would just shift the rail line a little bit we will pay to build a new station and in that way we unlock value. But we still need big radical ideas to move things on such as congestion charging nationally to pay for the environmental services that people need.

'We certainly need to engage with communities around prospective planning and identify the benefits for them. We need to show through developments that there will be pathways into jobs for local people and a mix of housing suitable for all ages, in order to show that what is built is making society better and we need to design them well. We need to identify community facilities that they are lacking and then deliver them to show that new developments can reap rewards.'

Above: aerial view towards Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, looking south towards Cambridge - courtesy Urban & Civic

Fred then talked about the need to exploit the best sites in Cambridge for mixed-use development, which he believes should be the best model for the city:

'I was a student in Cambridge and it was wonderfully dense then and none of us needed to drive. It is this density that is needed still. We have been advising on a lab building on Granta Park and the company didn't want to relocate but there was no lab space in the Cambridge core. So the question is how can the University make best use of its sites. They must be fully exploited. There are 120 car spaces and the carbon associated with that commute is far bigger than the building itself. We are working on another project in the Hills Road and that involves housing in a mixed use plan, which is the right model.

'I did want to mention Ebenezer Howard and the garden city. He talked back then about new communities and growth and that there should be balanced communities that produce land value and social inclusivity. He said there should be farms, and homes for 'inebriates and waifs'. But density is important, if you look at the centre of Oxford and Holywell Street where the density is 70 dwellings per hectare, the proposed density for the Begbroke Science Park development brief is half of that.'

Above: The Three Magnets by Ebenezer Howard

Simon continued:

'More than one hundred years ago when Ebenezer Howard was writing, it was about have jobs, clean air and good housing - what has changed? Nothing. But I think the whole approach to development has gone wrong in this country and there has been a polarisation of debate in Britain. There is too much short term funding and we are planning developments now but in thirty years time transport will be entirely different. We should be talking about existing places too and how to join things up. Cambridge is seeing one of the fastest growths of the country and we should take advantage of that. I have been working in Essex where three garden villages have been proposed but people didn't want them. I think people should not be afraid of growth, if it is done well.

'The Building Beautiful Commission is an example of listening to people and we should go further with this. However, we need to be aspirational and the way the system works we need to take the longer view. What is maintainable in developments is also important. Often we don't want to sit in areas that are not well maintained, with dirty seats and where we don't feel secure. Often we have to tax people to achieve the right environments when this should be taken out of the development itself.'

Sian concluded the discussion:

'There is always the need for a strong masterplan for housing and especially with talent retention and attraction. Developers didn't use to realise the commercial advantage of key worker housing and there is still a need for control and monitoring. We do a lot of analysis before the development is built but what we don't carry out is much evaluation afterwards. We need to work out how people are living once the development goes ahead and how we are paying for the upkeep. This is only right because it allows us to work out what is the right way forward in the future.'

Above: workshop in progress, run by Ed Hayden of Scott Brownrigg - at Future Cities Forum

Future Cities Forum drew some very interesting research comments from the workshop that Scott Brownrigg ran at our 'Science Cities' forum. Director Ed Hayden asked the audience to divide into groups to discuss best practice in science campus design. He set six teams the task of envisioning the science park of the future. The workshop team reports were illuminating.

Eimear Meredith Jones of Deloitte spoke for her team – which included contributors from Wellcome Genome Campus, Hertfordshire LEP, Stantec and law firm Mills & Reeve:

‘We have to go into this with a mindset of building for carbon neutral. This must include green transport and there must be biodiversity within this. In terms of people and culture, it needs to be about diverse communities, the meeting of minds, as the success of these science parks will be about collaboration so there must be a reason for being there beyond 9 to 5 with facilities to meet up. These must work for all age groups and it’s about the collaboration between these.

'From a transport and infrastructure perspective, space itself must be flexible so it can be repurposed as needs of organisations change. We also discussed the continuing reduction in the reliance on private cars...this involves attitudinal mindset change on what is a viable commute and car use; this will be helped by creating communities with housing nearby and 15-minute commutes – as we all like the idea of the 15- minute commute.’

Joanne Sainsbury of Arup spoke for a team which included Pilbrow & Partners, Volterra, Quod and global science park investor and manager TusPark:

‘From a sustainability and carbon perspective, we talked about mapping what the existing assets were and whether we could re-use them for a mixed-use environment so that it is not dominated by labs. Under people and culture, we talked about adaptability and the provision for key worker spaces and those that people could grow into.

‘We decided that it was unrealistic to expect that everyone would want to be in this work / live environment and that some people may want to commute a bit further. Cambridge is quite unique on access to skills training but there needs to be access to skills training on the outskirts so within the science parks themselves. From a transport and infrastructure perspective, we discussed what future infrastructure might look like with driverless cars and the transition to electric. How do you approach the servicing of buildings, around utilities, for example, as this may change.’

Above: workshop discussions in progress at 'science cities' Cambridge - from left: Simon Payne of Lambsquay Consulting, Stuart Edwards of East West Railway Company, Katherine Rodgers of Cambridge University Estates, and Keith Papa of BDP.

Juliet Clark of Stantec (who advises on the health, inclusion, and social value components of development proposals) reported for a team that included Historic England, Scott Brownrigg and Cambridge County Council:

‘On adaptability we thought about the issue from a longevity of the building point of view. The other carbon points included renewable energy – green roofs, solar panels and so on. What do we do about parking, where is the transport hub? How do you deal with movement around these large sites – and science parks are often too large?

‘On people and culture, it is important to have buildings at a human scale, embracing inclusion and diversity. We also thought about the buildings being personalised, as a lot of new developments while very flexible are very similar in how they look. How we can adapt these buildings when we have tenants with own agendas is a good question.

‘Looking at shared amenities on the science parks, it is important to mark out those that are public-facing and those that are not. We talked about anthropology and understanding how people’s lives really work - we are building these places for people, after all.

‘We should be building in health and wellbeing elements from the start, not just two weeks before submission of a proposal. On transport and infrastructure this is a functional means of creating place through legibility and wayfinding. We think behavioural change is key to this...and let’s not be afraid of the weather. We have all been afraid to get wet!’

Orestis Tzortzoglou of BioMed Realty, spoke for a team that included JLL, Sheppard Robson and LDA Design:

‘Energy consumption, water consumption and waste – how do we manage that? The challenges are also around flexibility and future proofing of buildings, and then nature and biodiversity are essential components.

‘People and culture: the attraction and retention of talent is always a key driver for developing science parks. You must think about the ‘soft power of space and place’. People arriving to work and live here may think ‘Cambridge is fantastic – but how do I tap into this?’

‘We talked about the transport and infrastructure question – micro-mobility will be important. However there is a concern about the potential scarcity of energy – there is a big question for the Grid across East Anglia.’

Matthew Punshon, representing Cambridge University Estates Division, spoke for a team comprising HOK, Arup and Mace Group, agreed with other teams but made the point:

‘The younger generation want to work, very often, close to the action. This is not always the same for the older generation who may not want to be on the doorstep of their work, bumping into work colleagues as they often have other pressures such as family and school drops. However, our team felt that satellite working require other close-to-home facilities so you can have different models of working.’

Simon Payne of Lambsquay Consulting of Cambridge reported workshop findings from a team that included East West Railway Co, Cambridge University Estates Division, TusPark and BDP:

‘Our four points on Sustainability and Carbon are: Taking carbon out journeys, building re-use, self-generation of energy, and reducing carbon on embedded materials and the use of composites.

‘We made three points on People and Culture: proper integration with people in the locality, provision of services with local communities to achieve more critical mass, and more opportunities to attract and keep talent by maximising opportunities for social engagement.

‘Finally, two points on transport and infrastructure (we were afraid of the wet!): season-proof micro – mobility and an integrated approach to transport which is attractive to users.’

Below: Juliet Clark of Stantec presents her team's findings at the workshop - Future Cities Forum at Newnham, Cambridge


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