Colourful Cambridge Campaign


Celebration: Colourful New Buildings in Cambridge



In this section we celebrate the use of colour on newer buildings in Cambridge. Few new buildings in Cambridge make use of external colour. This may because their designers do not like colour, or because they fear that colour would be unpopular with planning committees. How wrong they are. Colour can bring life and uplift to a new development, and can help to create enjoyable places.

Because colour is not widely used you have to hunt around to find it. But there are some examples of the imaginative use of colour on newer buildings in Cambridge, and we congratulate those who have made it happen.

Our first example is of the use of colour in an old building, the old Addenbrooke's Hospital, which underwent a new renovation by the architect John Outram. An enthusiast for Egyptian architecture, Outram has made bold use of colour:

Our next group of examples are completely new buildings, designed by leading architects at Cambridge University's West Cambridge site. MJP Architects have designed student apartments which make use of pale blue external panels, coupled with dark red internal blinds:

Wilkinson Eyre, the architects of the adjacent Hauser Forum, use fine lines of red and orange to enliven the otherwise monochrome facade:

The new Institute for Manufacturing Building, designed by Arup Associates, uses deep orange external panels:

And the Microsoft Building, designed by RMJM, has accents of yellow to offset the terracotta facing:

Three of the most colourful modern buildings in Cambridge are grouped around the railway station: the Triangle housing development, the Travelodge hotel, and the Kaleidoscope housing development. The Triangle housing development, designed by HTA Architects, makes excellent use of a restrained colour palette of blues and greens, applied to sliding louvred screens. This creates a constantly changing pattern of colour on the facades:

Award winning architects Proctor Matthews have used colour to enliven the facades of the new Travelodge hotel in the Cambridge Leisure development:

The same firm of architects, Proctor Matthews, has used bold, almost fluorescent, panels of colour to highlight parts of the nearby Kaleidoscope housing development. We salute their bravado.

Two other notable colourful buildings in Cambridge, both designed by local architects, are the public toilet at Parkers Piece, and the Trumpington Pavilion. The public toilet at Parkers Piece, designed by Freeland Rees Roberts, is not only colourful by day, but illuminates in changing colours after dark.

Trumpington Pavilion uses an unusual and colourful exterior treatment. A corrugated plastic sandwich sheet has had colour dribbled into it by an artist specialising in this technique. This is covered with a bright green protective steel mesh. The doors to the changing rooms are in boldly contrasting colours. The pavilion was designed by Cambridge-based architects 5th Studio.

Colour can be applied with advantage not just to buildings, but also to engineering structures, construction hoardings, and even cycleways. The Carter Bridge, near the railway station, is resplendent in red and blue:

BAM Nuttall have used their corporate colours of green and orange to give punch to something as ordinary as a construction hoarding near the railway station:

Finally, we congratulate all concerned on the colourful Genome Stripes artwork by Katy Hallett which has been applied to the new cycleway, forming part of the National Cycle Network, from Great Shelford to Addenbrookes' Hospital. A series of 10,257 stripes in four colours represents the 10,257 genetic letters, or bases, of the gene BRCA2. They have been laid on the path using thermoplastic strips heat-welded onto the tarmac. It is the sequence of the four bases colour coded - adenine (a) in green, cytosine (C) in blue, guanine (G) in yellow and thymine (T) in red - that contains the code for life. BRCA2 is just one of the 30,000 genes in the human genome. It plays an important role in our bodies, producing a protein that helps to repair human DNA. The cycleway was opened in 2005 by Nobel Prize winner Sir John Sulston, to mark the role of the nearby Sanger Institute in decoding BRCA2.

For our companion section celebrating the use of colour on older Cambridge buildings, please click here: Celebration Old.


The Colourful Cambridge Campaign encourages the wider and more imaginative use of colour in Cambridge - on buildings old and new. Our aspiration is to make Cambridge Britain's most colourful city. The Director of the Colourful Cambridge Campaign is Alex Reid, email:


Return to Home Page
About the Campaign
What not to paint
Colour Projects
Colour Network
Inspiration Old
Inspiration New
Celebration Old
Celebration New
World of Colour