University of Cambridge Primary School

  The University of Cambridge Primary School has been planned and designed to be an international exemplar and an opportunity for teacher training for the University of Cambridge. The first students were welcomed in September 2015. As part of the nationally significant North West Cambridge Development, the UCPS, despite being was the last plot to be commissioned was the first to be completed thanks to a highly coordinated design team of Marks Barfield Architects, Colour and Parmabrook working with Wilmott Dixon and artist Ruth Proctor.

The school enjoys a highly enriched inside-outside educational landscape with layers of sensory and ecological planting, accumulating towards the site boundary in a rich and expansive green frame that connects with the new public parkland space beyond. Embedded are the interlocking systems of water and food, connecting pupils to the world around them and providing an experiential understanding of fundamental elements within the environment. These valuable direct and indirect teaching resources not only provide a calming ambience, creative inspiration and food, but form part of a Sustainable Urban Drainage System for the whole site.

A central courtyard is the focus of the school, a place where the whole school can gather as a community, perform to parents or work as a class. The inner covered cloister to the courtyard, host to the art piece by Ruth Proctor adds a great richness to the space :

The design was developed with the influential educational practitioner Dame Allison Peacock from the Wroxham School, educationalist Cathy Burke and an intensive programme of site visits to exemplar schools including Colour’s British Council for School Environments (BCSE) ‘Best outdoor learning environment’ award-winning Moorside Community Primary School and our seminal work at Newburn Manor Nursery School; a modest playground refurbishment inspired by visionary head teacher Celia Skilbeck – a place that nurtures creativity, social and intellectual development by ‘not dictating to children how to play.’


University of Cambridge

Project Team

Marks Barfield Architects, Parmabrook, Turner & Townsend, AECOM, URS, Ruth Proctor artist


Northwest Cambridge, UK



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