Initially planned by Richard Rogers, CB1 was to be a world-class arrival point, with park, piazza, heritage centre and affordable homes. Instead, it’s ‘a future slum’ plagued by antisocial behaviour and sex-trafficking
“A remarkable opportunity,” is how architect Richard Rogers described his £725m vision to design an entirely new gateway to Cambridge. Twelve years on, the result has been called “rubbish”, “unfit” and “soulless” by local residents, not to mention being accused of “designing in crime”, after a rise in antisocial behaviour and a wave of “pop-up brothels”.
Visitors arriving by train are now greeted with a generic clone-town scene more like a suburban retail park than an illustrious seat of learning. Reconstituted stone fins line the front of a broad, bland office building, presenting a beige frontage of Pret, Costa and Wasabi outlets to the new station square. The insipid facade of a squat Ibis hotel frames its other side, looking on to a public space seemingly designed more with cars than people in mind. For somewhere that markets itself as “the best small city in the world”, it is a disappointing welcome.