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David Butler
Marmalade Lane, the first cohousing development in Cambridge, has recently been completed in Orchard Park and serves as a promising solution to the critical undersupply of houses in the market. Cambridge-based architectural firm Mole Architects designed the development that comprises 42 contemporary homes with shared facilities and garden space for a mixed and integenerational resident group. Billed as a “sustainable neighborhood,” the cohousing community was designed in accordance to passive design principles and with the Trivselhus’ Climate Shield prefabricated timber frame panel system for superior thermal efficiency and airtightness.

Marmalade Lane’s 42 homes include a mix of two- to five-bedroom terraced houses as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Designed to foster a community spirit and sustainable living, the development has shared public spaces for growing food, playing, socializing and quiet contemplation. The residents— members of K1 Cohousing who have a stake in the common areas and contribute to community management— also have access to a flexible “common house” that serves as the community’s social heart and houses a play room, guest bedrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a large hall and kitchen for shared meals and parties. A separate workshop and gym are also onsite.

“As a custom-build development, each K1 Cohousing household selected one of five ‘shell’ house or flat types which they then configured through the floor-by-floor selection of floorplans, kitchen and bathroom fittings, and one of four external brick specifications,” according to the press release. “Wide and narrow house and ‘paired’ flat shells share a 7.8m-deep plan, allowing them to be distributed in any sequence along a terrace. Homes have been tailored to individual requirements without the risks or complexity of self-build, while balancing personalisation with the harmony of a visually cohesive architectural style based on repeating wall and window proportions, porches and balconies.”

For energy efficiency and flexibility in floorplan configuration, the brick-clad cohousing structures are built with Trivselhus’ Climate Shield closed panel timber frame system that was prefabricated in southern Sweden. The triple-glazed composite aluminum and timber windows along with electrical ducting were also factory-fitted so that a single house can be quickly assembled on site in just two days. Each home is also equipped with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery as well as air source-heat pumps.

JCB Architects
Jackson Clements Burrows Architects has designed two student accommodation buildings for La Trobe University in Melbourne that will be made of mass timber.

The two buildings, to be constructed at a cost of $100 million, will hold 624 beds in one, four, five and six bed apartments, with common spaces joining the two buildings together.

The project is thought to be the largest mass timber project in Victoria.

Graham Burrows, JCB Architects director, said, “The design of the new buildings is very much inspired by the extraordinary landscape in which they sit.

“As the largest mass timber project in Victoria, the buildings will not only offer huge environmental benefits, but they will also provide calm and beautiful spaces in and around which both resident students and the wider La Trobe community can interact.”

Ross Snowball, director of developer Multiplex, said the project would make use of a number of emerging sustainable design and construction techniques, including the prefabrication of most of the structure.

“We are particularly passionate about emerging design technologies which respond to environmental and sustainability needs, and we love working with universities – so this project perfectly marries the two and I’m really looking forward to seeing the outcome next year.”

The building is part of La Trobe University’s 10-year, $5 billion “University City of the Future” campus redevelopment plan.
Loonid Fumansky
Gone are the days of cinderblock walls and students crammed two to a room on symmetrically opposed twin beds. Shared unisex bathrooms are becoming a thing of the past. A year (or more) of living with three-hundred-plus strangers in a crowded university dormitory — once considered by many to be a rite of passage in the American college experience — may no longer be the source of horror stories for future generations. The latest offerings in privately owned and developed college student housing prioritize quality and quantity, showing what can be accomplished when ambitious architects and developers embrace high-density zoning laws to implement their visions.

In some circles, the West Campus neighborhood adjacent to The University of Texas at Austin’s urban campus is considered ground zero for the luxury student housing market. Throughout the past decade, West Campus has consistently reflected, if not exceeded, the citywide increase in development in Austin. In 2004, the City of Austin approved the University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO) district in West Campus. The new UNO zoning laws proposed “high density redevelopment in the area generally west of the University of Texas campus” and aimed to “protect the character of the predominantly single-family residential neighborhoods adjacent to the district.” According to UT Austin professor and Page senior principal Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, UNO brought thousands of formerly displaced students within walking distance of campus: “In the 1960s, there were maybe ten thousand students living out in areas from which they had to take shuttle buses to campus. It was extremely inconvenient, and it deterred activities at UT. The solution to this was the upgrading of zoning in West Campus. UNO was a smart move, no doubt.”

Among other things, UNO came up with streetscape improvements, allowed for one-hundred-percent impervious cover, and established a number of density bonuses for projects that comply with affordable housing and parking components. If a structure in West Campus sets aside 10 percent of the dwelling units to house residents whose household income is less than 80 percent of the median income in the Austin metropolitan area, it may add on 15 feet in height, or reduce its number of garage parking spaces to 40 percent of the city minimum. Nearly 15 years later, UNO’s goal of establishing a densely populated but livable pedestrian neighborhood is well on its way to being achieved.

Due to the nature of UNO’s up-zoning, the appearance and character of West Campus is slowly transforming, as more and more privately-owned, multi-story apartment complexes are replacing the battered single-family homes that have been familiar to generations of UT students. However, these multi-story projects are not just new spaces for the university population to be crammed into, dormitory-style. Architects are taking cues from student demand as well as from the young professional housing market, and forging a new path in student housing, one that creates a level of luxury and amenities unusual to college living spaces.

Since the creation of UNO, student housing projects developed within the district boundaries have shown that upscale living arrangements do not have to be limited to downtown skyscrapers. Features now standard in multi-story student apartment complexes in West Campus include expansive windows that create light-filled rooms and hallways, and provide sweeping views of the surrounding hills; sleek exterior finishes; and spacious single-occupancy bedrooms.

Lobbies are no longer environments to simply pass through; they have become inviting spaces in which residents can relax and socialize thanks to savvy interior design. In The Ruckus, which opened in 2017, the lobby, designed by Chelsea Kloss Interiors, rivals that of many boutique hotels, with modern seating arrangements swathed in opulent fabrics, framed art pieces on quirky ga