Spens Avenue forms part of the well-regarded Gough Way estate, laid out in phases from circa 1965 into the mid 1970’s. The site was a vacant parcel of land, formally used to store garden rubbish by Corpus Christi College. The client brief was to design four detached family houses with a floor area of about 240 m2 per unit.
The dwellings were conceived as simple stepped volumes, with single storey ancillary elements set forward in a similar manner to the houses to the west. However, rather than replicate the 1960’s housing nearby it was felt that this location provided an opportunity for a more contemporary scheme which would provide a positive and distinctive presence to the streetscape.
The same house type is used for all four units to provide a consistent and deliberately repetitive character which is typical of the estate generally. The materials include weathered buff brick (not unlike Cambridge Stock), pre-patinated bronze colour zinc for the roof, and grey powder coated windows. The garage blocks were constructed in linear blue bricks to provide a dark backdrop for the proposed silver birch trees on the frontage and to reflect the engineering bricks used on the 1960’s flats opposite.
Internally, the houses were planned with first floor living rooms to take advantage of views over the sports field to the rear. The front entrance opens onto a double height hallway. The staircase is located within a rectangular enclosure (stair turret) at the front of the houses which is expressed externally on the elevation and is a typical Cambridge college feature.