Dovehouse Court, Girton

To promote a wider understanding and appreciation of the construction industry

Photograph of almshouses Dovehouse

Best new building over £2m – Highly Commended: Dovehouse Court, Girton

In this category there was one winner and one commendation.


Architect: MOLE Architects ltd

Client: Girton Town Charity

Structural Engineer: Conisbee

M&E Consultant: Hoare Lea (RIBA Stages 1-4a)

M&E Consultant: JG Consulting (RIBA Stages 4b-6)

Quantity Surveyor: Faithful and Gould

Project Manager: Northmores

Approve building inspector: 3C Shared Services

Main contractor: Barnes Construction Ltd

Landscape Architect: Jamie Buchanan Landscape

Passivhaus certifier: WARM

M&E Contractor: Munro

Image credit: David Butler


Judges comments

“Funded by the charity selling off land elsewhere, these almshouses and their communal gardens have suucessfully replaced the charity’s office and 6 bungalows on-site that did not meet up-to-date living and space standards. The 15-home, fully certified Passivhaus development that has been achieved has been carefully designed to cater for independent living, over-55s – people with close village connections who are not home owners and who are in need. For comparing the sizes of demolished v new, the 40sqm of a demolished bungalow has been replaced by a new 62m sqm single storey, terraced dwelling – clearly a generous space that is to be commended all the more, alongside achieving Passivhaus within what must have been an extremely tight overall development budget. The horseshoe layout of single and two-storey buildings providing the 1.5-bedroom homes wasn’t the first scheme; it resulted from an earlier proposal for 16 dwellings not being granted planning permission. The delivered project has nonetheless achieved a very high standard of design through this layout, with clear forms that are successfully staggered in height moving away from the high street, giving a contextual feel to the development as one that is well-integrated into the rest of the village.

Each dual aspect dwelling then clearly having a very close visual and physical connection with the shared garden, the allotment space and the orchard to the rear. These connections are facilitated by the creation of a ’street’ fronting the dwellings, with each ground floor single storey home also having its own courtyard garden.

Five former residents have moved from the old into the new accommodation on-site; 3 dwellings remain vacant but only until someone in need applies to join this small community – the charity is to be praised for bringing people in slowly, so that the current residents will welcome newcomers. This is an impressive strategy; it is not often the case that income is less important than ensuring that people in need are given the opportunity to live somewhere this special and to create a new community.

The joyful, brightly coloured architecture does not feel remotely institutional; each dwelling has a unique colour for its front door – a small but very deliberate feature that is crucial for anyone who may have dementia, as they will be likely to be able to retain the ability to describe colours to be able to identify where they want to go.”