View from the landscaped space at the heart of the ‘Hive’

Future Business Centre — Cambridge


Bidwells / MLM / Aecom / Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects / Interserve

The Future Business Centre is a workspace building for social or environmental ventures. The building in Cambridge was the first bespoke space for the social enterprise charity Allia, who aim to create the leading spaces for impact entrepreneurs.

The Centre creates an adaptable range of workspaces, from physical workshops to virtual offices, including serviced, co-working and incubator space. The Future Business Centre supports charities learning to trade, social enterprises wanting to grow and companies developing products that result in social or environmental benefits.

The project had a £7m budget and achieved BREEAM Excellent standard. 5th Studio developed the project through to Technical Design stage, at which point it was taken on by the contractor Interserve and their design team. The design was amended at this point to make cost reductions and to respond to a revised brief for Cat A office space.

The Hive

Future Business Centre is located as a key part of the Hive project: a cluster of enterprise and education spaces on the urban fringe of Cambridge and a partnership between the social enterprise charity Allia, Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge Regional College.

The Hive is intended to work with professionals working in construction who want to update their skills to adapt to a low-carbon economy, young people looking for vocational training in sustainable construction techniques and businesses set up to tackle social or environmental needs.

In addition to as well as designing the key building on the site for Allia, 5th Studio were masterplanners for the whole project. The masterplan seeks to make retrospective order out of this city fringe condition, with the Future Business Centre located as the first building to make a strong frontage on to Kings Hedges Road.

The Future Business Centre is one of a series of projects that explore spaces for innovation, from strategy, through the urban scale to delivering buildings to accommodate start up companies and technology firms.


A series of images exploring the internal environments of the Future Business Centre: Creating economical and adaptable space for start-up companies

The physical form and internal spatial qualities of the building were developed in a series of large scale hand-crafted physical models.

1:100 model of the entire scheme to investigate form and material relationships

Robust spaces for both physical ‘making’ as well as virtual creativity

The central atrium – intended as a social space over which the break out and meeting spaces overlook

Developing and demonstrating relationships between architecture and furniture

Image of the entrance to the Future Business Centre from Kings Hedges Road

A rich frontage could start to engage with the urban fringe

The road itself strings together a vibrant collection of city landmarks, green spaces, and community institutions

Site planning principles

By placing the two buildings as ‘bookends’ to the site, a shared space is created at the centre

Investigating massing and distribution of the masterplan program through modelling

Developing a public facing building which creates a strong edge to the main road

Spaces for intellectual exchange – a conference room opening on to the shared atrium


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