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Devonshire Gardens Pavilion Design Competition

Devonshire Gardens Pavilion Design Competition aims to design a new
pavilion at the heart of a new mixed development in Cambridge. The new green garden, in which the pavilion will sit, is a critical element of the scheme and seeks to bring nature back into the city, improving biodiversity, introducing sustainable drainage, and creating places and spaces for all to enjoy.

The wider proposal seeks to deliver a comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment
of the site, providing significant new public realm, alongside high-quality residential accommodation, commercial office space and other ancillary non-residential uses.

Project Vision and Objectives:

The vision for the future of Devonshire Gardens can be summarized as follows:

  • Delivering generous and welcoming new public green spaces, including intimate residential courtyards and a lush, open garden, forming the heart of the scheme, which can also host sustainable and engaging community events and activities.
  • Creating a mixed-use scheme with complementary uses and occupiers, delivering genuine social, economic and environmental value.
  • Forming a new neighbourhood that captures the spirit of Mill Road with a people-focussed design, thinking about a typical day in the life of a visitor, local resident, or worker at Devonshire Gardens.
  • Providing flexible, ground floor spaces for independent, community uses that a Local Needs Survey demonstrates are in demand and carefully curating these to provide a cluster of diverse, desired amenities.
  • Learning from the successes of local, exemplar, high-quality residential schemes, and adding a cultural Mill Road flavour to create a point of difference for this proposal.
  • Delivering environmental improvements to Devonshire Road and providing a green, natural buffer to the surrounding terraced housing.
  • Designed to respond positively to the biodiversity crisis with around 350% Biodiversity Net Gain achieved on the site through new tree planting, new habitats and interventions to support birds, bats, insects and hedgehog populations.
  • Aligning with the UK Green Building Council’s (GBC) Advancing Net Zero initiative and Cambridge’s climate emergency declaration by targeting buildings that are Net Zero Carbon in operation by 2030.
  • Encouraging and facilitating active travel by providing exemplary bicycle facilities, changing and shower facilities for workers and integrating with the forthcoming Chisholm Trail for both pedestrians and cyclists with dedicated paths carefully woven across the Site.
  • Designing spaces and places to enhance well-being and make people happy by generating informal collision points between residents, workers, and visitors, encouraging social interaction, and bringing those people closer to nature.

Assessment criteria:

The judging panel will be looking at both the approach that the team have taken to the scheme and the practices experience and team members.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate design proposals:

  • Appreciation of the site and consequent planning issues, including preliminary response to masterplan, context, and proposed design.
  • Quality and appropriateness of the proposed design approach/ideas.
  • Understanding of the client’s expectations, brief and ability to work in partnership with the client/design team.
  • Understanding of and capacity to deliver the project (at Stage 2) within a strict budget.


Honoraria will be payable to each shortlisted team who complies with the requirements of the competition and attends the final presentations. Railpen undertakes to pay within 4 weeks of the date of the award, an honorarium
of GBP £1,500 (plus VAT) to each team as a contribution towards the cost of developing their ideas.

Alongside the payment of £10,000 for stage 2 development and delivery plus additional review time at stage 3, the team will benefit from other opportunities such as:

  • Inclusion in marketing materials for the wider project
  • Mentoring and support from R H Partnership Architects and the wider delivery team
  • Developing relationships and opportunities with the client. The intention is to help support younger, diverse practices in their growth and development through this opportunity.
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