The First Family-Friendly Co-Housing Project in Cambridge

Marmalade Lane

Marmalade Lane, a co-housing development in Cambridge, UK, is the first community of its type in the city. The new-build house model brings both the commune and urban family living into the 21st century.

The development is all about community engagement and support of the neighbourhood within which everyone not only knows each other, but also care about each other’s welfare, from sharing childcare to combating isolation. Right now, the community includes a variety of nationalities, forming an eclectic group of all ages and walks of life. All of them inhabit over 40 houses differing in design and supporting an idea of subtle sense of individuality within a coherent whole, with paired flats mixed with five-bed family homes and shared facilities and a large shared garden. Everything designed along low-energy standards with sustainable raw materials. The car parking is kept to the periphery and bins in communal stores, saving the outside space for people’s enjoyment, primarily for the children to play wherever they want.

However, the project is more directed at middle-class families rather than millennials as the Marmalade Lane properties are not cheap, yet they are a good opportunity compared to the troubled British housing market. Although it could be argued that for a project aiming to be for a “real” mixed community, there is a significant lack of more affordable homes.

The estates built according to the needs of residents instead of the pure profit of the developers, where the authorities claims of “creating and supporting communities” are actually becoming true, sustain an emerging phenomenon in housing around the world. The car-free, triple-glazed house sanctuary of Marmalade Lane challenges the traditional patterns where housing is organised and praises the model of people-centred development and possible future of urban family living.