Plans have been submitted for one of the largest and most significant new areas of public realm in Cambridge by Liberty Property Trust and Countryside, developers of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC).

Day view

The aspiration is to create a vibrant, village green-inspired public space, which contains artworks commissioned and fully funded by the developers. Included within the application are plans for a piazza, circus (‘the clearing’) and high street designed by award-winning artist Ryan Gander in partnership with Gillespies Landscape Architects and cultural consultants Futurecity.

The project stems from Futurecity’s site wide Public Art Strategy that places artists at the heart of the design and build of the public realm, as well as creating opportunities for artists to work inside some of the organisations taking residence across the development. The vision is to form relationships between the occupiers of the site, which include: Cambridge University Hospitals, AstraZeneca, The Forum, Papworth Hospital, the Medical Research Council and The University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. The area is located at the heart of the campus, to the west of the existing Addenbrooke’s Hospital and will be linked by pedestrian and cycle routes to enable people from outside the campus to visit and enjoy the space and to encourage people visiting the hospital to use it.  

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The plans include a shared green space that encourages new thinking and collaboration and lends itself to the creation of a dynamic community.  There are large lawn areas in the proposal as well as wildflower planting, orchard gardens, rain garden, benches and sheltered and enclosed areas. The space is intended to be flexible to meet many different needs – from opportunities for reflection through to a lunchtime venue, as well as being suitable for community events.   

Andy Robinson of Futurecity, who leads the arts strategy, said “Since 2008, we have worked closely with Liberty Property Trust and Countryside Properties to strategize and deliver a visionary public arts programme throughout the scheme. Commissioning and curating Ryan Gander and Gillespies has been a wonderful experience where contemporary art and landscape design have worked in unison to create an inspiring environment.”

Feedback from extensive public consultations highlighted that people wanted a calming, green space, which would provide shelter and escape – an oasis on the campus.  

Ryan Gander, the award winning conceptual artist behind the vision, said: “This landscape-led design aims to create an environment which is a level playing field for all to enjoy. We hope that the public is as excited by our interpretation of that vision as we are.”

1Commenting on the proposals, Andrew Blevins, Managing Director of Liberty Property Trust UK, said:  “All too often developers shy away from the opportunity presented to create individual, inspiring, public art.  At Liberty Property Trust we take our commitment to public art and the public realm extremely seriously. It informs the design of our developments and is an integral aspect of them. We are thrilled by the vision created for Cambridge Biomedical Campus by Ryan Gander and Gillespies and look forward to seeing it brought to life for the people of Cambridge and its visitors to enjoy.”

Andrew Carrington, Managing Director of Strategic Land at Countryside added: “The Cambridge Biomedical Campus is essentially a community where academics, businesses and healthcare professionals collaborate in ground breaking ways to discover better approaches of treating and caring for patients. This new area of public realm will help facilitate this and further enhance the world class facilities being developed across the Campus.”