Mud scale model of Cambridge University site complete

Volunteers constructing a cob "house", Cambridge Volunteers constructing a cob "house", part of a model of Cambridge University's housing development

Related Stories

Artists and volunteers have created a mud and straw scale model of a £1bn Cambridge University development.

The "buildings", made from material known as cob, represent the first phase of the University's North West development.

The 90m-long model was built on the site from top soil left over from archaeological excavations of the area.

Construction of the actual buildings including 1,300 homes, a school and shops will begin later this year.

Cob constructed scale model, Cambridge, week 1 The site in the first week of construction
Cob constructed scale model, Cambridge, week 5 By the fifth week, most of the scale model buildings had been constructed

The public artwork was created in six weeks by artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie to give people an idea of what the finished development will look like.

The project continued despite some very wet weather which made the cob "too wet" and "knocked a few corners off some of the big structures" requiring repairs, according to Ms Guthrie.

Shaping cob, Cambridge Cob is a mixture of mud, straw and water and is a traditional building material in the West Country
Cob 'school' under construction, Cambridge The project is funded by Section 106 developer money from Cambridge University

The artists were assisted by about 60 volunteers, who were taught the techniques of working with cob during workshops.

Ms Guthrie said most of the volunteers were from the local area, but some came from further afield, including a couple who travelled from Ireland.

The project was inspired by archaeological excavations undertaken on the site prior to any building work beginning.

Cob 'buildings' under construction, Cambridge Most of the buildings are around one metre (3ft 3in) high

Ms Guthrie said "physically working with the soil from holes excavated by the archaeologists... couldn't be more different to going to a lecture on the archaeology of the site".

"You're handling the very mud and soil and materials that was inhabited by people living here thousands of years ago," she said.

The scale model has been created on land not scheduled for building and Ms Guthrie hopes it will be remain on the site for many years.

Outline planning permission for the full development, which will include 3,000 homes and accommodation for 2,000 postgraduate students together with research and community facilities, was granted in February last year.

North West Cambridge phase one plan The 370-acre (150 hectares) development is being built on Cambridge University farmland between Huntingdon Road, Madingley Road and the M11

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Cambridgeshire



Min. Night 15 °C


  • Children in Africa graphicBaby steps

    Why are more children in Africa living beyond five?

  • Olive oil and olivesFood myth

    Did 1950s Britain get its olive oil from a pharmacy?

  • Rio Ferdinand and David Moyes'Playing to win'

    Memorable quotes from sporting autobiographies BBC Sport

  • Hand washing to contain Ebola in LiberiaEbola virus

    More action is needed to tackle Ebola, say experts

  • shadow of people kissing on grassOutdoor love

    Should the police intervene when people have sex in public?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.