The North West Cambridge Development is a significant new development for Cambridge, ambitious in scale and motivated by a genuine vision to create a mixed use, sustainable and diverse community over the long term. The Development is marked by a focus on quality design and urban planning, a rich social mix of uses, and a deep seated appreciation for the natural landscape.

The North West Cambridge Public Art Strategy has been prepared by the Contemporary Art Society and InSite Arts following consultation with the University, Project and Masterplanning teams, local arts and community institutions and Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire local authorities.

The art programme will be delivered throughout the life of the development, supporting the creation of a dynamic place, identity and community for the University.



The Public Art Strategy aims to deliver an art programme which responds the location, the needs of those who will live and work there as well as those existing communities who will overlook the entire process of construction. Each art commission will look to enhance the unique identity of this site and to raise a standard of integrated public art that will be recognised locally but also nationally and internationally.

The art programme will work with artists whose in-depth research will benefit from close engagement with local communities and other interested and relevant parties. Through support of the art consultants, the varied approaches of the art programme which includes events as well as physical artworks; artists will be working on NW Cambridge for during the entire construction phase and create opportunities for ongoing arts initiatives. This extended period of arts development allows the arts to be responsive to change and new communities as they move in.

North West Cambridge presents a rich variety of opportunities for artists to respond to: sustainability, landscape, ecology, history & archaeology, urban development and the University itself as a centre for knowledge. The art strategy has identified particular thematic strands for artists which were felt to not only recognise the history but the development of a 21st century community and environment.


Habitation: North West Cambridge Art Programme

The art programme for North West Cambridge is underlined by the need to understand and respond to its very location, that is, the physical site, its past, present and future context, and the communities that will be a part of its life. It is recognised that artists and their work are essential to and complement the design and experience of North West Cambridge; through their artists are able to create inventive ways to raise sense of understanding as well as ownership of the huge changes to the landscape and of all that this development will eventually be able to offer. Public Art will be an instantly accessible source of creative activity and of artworks which will link with the extraordinary arts and cultural experiences already offered in the city.

The inaugural art commissions for North West Cambridge will be a series of annual artist in residence projects, starting in 2013. For this programme a number of artists will be selected each year to stay on site and carry out intensive research in close collaboration with particular University departments. This does allow the artist opportunity to form a completely different relationship with local communities, the location and ultimately with artwork they produce and exhibit publically.

A dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, talks, performance and publications will provide rich and diverse opportunities for community engagement with North West Cambridge.


Activation: Temporary Event Programme

Aimed at bringing life to North West Cambridge at early stages and encouraging public use of the site, a programme of temporary events and site activities will be commissioned to engage diverse audiences across a wide range of art forms. From artist led actions and participation events to outdoor screenings, temporary light and sculpture commissions, festivals, urban food projects and artist-led walks, the possibilities are wide-ranging.

The programme will look to develop partnerships with local and wider creative agencies who will be invited to programme the site. University Museums and Colleges, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge Festivals, local arts organisations and commissioning agencies are just a few examples of potential partners.


Making Place – Creating local identity

Supporting the creation of distinct neighbourhoods within North West Cambridge, the Making Place commissions are designed to contribute to the naming of areas of the site in ways that are meaningful to local communities and to support branding of the development. A writer, poet or artist working with text will be commissioned to work alongside the marketing team to draw out the context, history and assets of North West Cambridge and develop a range of site names which may include urban zones, streets, public open spaces, play areas, walking routes and meeting places. An essential part of this process will be the artist establishing and leading a programme of community engagements and creative dialogues so that local people have the opportunity to contribute their thoughts, memories and stories of the area


Habitation Education and Engagement Programme

An art in education programme will provide an important mechanism to raise awareness and contribute to creative learning for schools and community groups local to North West Cambridge. Creative workshops for will be developed alongside each major commission exploring themes relevant to the development: ecology, archaeology, sustainability, community and place. Artists in residence will be offered opportunities to contribute to the content and delivery of the learning programme.


Delivering the Art Strategy

The Art Strategy will be delivered through a three-tiered structure - the University as project owner, an internal Public Art Advisory Panel to provide high-level guidance and reporting, and an Art Advisor appointed to deliver all elements of the strategy.

The Public Art Advisory Panel's role is to guide the implementation of the Strategy, participate in the selection of artists and provide advocacy for the public art programme. More information on Panel Membership is found below.

  • Chair: Andrew Nairne, Director, Kettle's Yard
  • Prof Jeremy Sanders, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Affairs, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Keith Carne, First Bursar, King's College, University of Cambridge
  • Ruth Scurr, Writer and Historian, Caius College, University of Cambridge
  • Rod Mengham, Fellow and Curator of Works of Art, Jesus College, University of Cambridge
  • Helen Sainsbury, Curator, Tate Modern
  • Nicola Buckley, Head of Public Engagement, Office of External Affairs and Communications, University of Cambridge
  • Eric Marland, Cambridge Lettering Artist and Local Community Representative
  • Harriet Loffler, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
  • Keith Gentle, Local Community Representative

Experienced and reputed public art advisors will be appointed throughout the construction of North West Cambridge to guide curatorial decisions and ensure the aims and principles of the Public Art Strategy are met. The Contemporary Art Society and InSite Arts, who have developed the Public Art Strategy, will deliver the public art for the first phase of the development.


Art Advisors

  • Fabienne Nicholas, Head of Consultancy, Contemporary Art Society
  • Ailve McCormack, Art Producer, Consultancy, Contemporary Art Society
  • Sam Wilkinson, Director, InSite Arts


For further information on the North West Cambridge Public Art Programme please contact:


The 150 hectare site is a triangular area on the edge of Cambridge, bounded by Huntingdon Road (A1307), Madingley Road (A1303) and the M11. Only about 100 hectares will be developed and around 50 hectares - over one third of the site - will be open space.

Part of the site lies within the area of Cambridge City Council and part is within South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The site is owned by the University of Cambridge and is currently a mix of farmland and university buildings.

Click the image above to see a satellite image and a Google map of the site.

We have included on the wider Google map the other major developments which are planned around Cambridge so that you can see the complete picture for this part of Cambridgeshire.



Public Art Strategy for NW Cambridge 1


InSite Arts is an public art organisation founded by Sarah Collicott and Sam Wilkinson in 2001.Our work has always been founded on our constant desire and commitment to understanding the impact that the arts can have on people's everyday lives. InSite Arts works in partnership with its clients to generate and deliver innovative and relevant public art and arts initiatives in a diversity of scales and in a wide variety of media.

The strategies and artworks we have commissioned range from temporary events to permanent installations, from the more intimately scaled art projects through to major landmark installations integrated into the public realm and architectural schemes.

At the heart of our work is our staunch commitment to commissioning artwork which will inspire and intrigue, which become a fundamental part of a successful building, development, town or city. This can only be acheived by working closely with and supporting artists and clients throughout the course of the art project/programme, through to installation. Successfully conceived and delivered public artworks draw inspiration from a thorough understanding of location, the potential 'audience', history of the site and the aspirations of client and design team.

Our years of experience has put InSite Arts in a unique position within the field of public art. InSite Arts has the skills to work in complex and time sensitive development environments to deliver high quality work exploring a diversity of arts practice within the public realm.

InSite Arts is committed is to supporting both the clients and artists it works with to enable the best possible opportunities for partnership. Our goal is to generate opportunities for artists to create the unexpected within the public realm. Artists and commissioners, with InSite Arts' assistance, can join together to offer to people in public places new experiences and ways of interpreting what they see around them.


For further information on the North West Cambridge Development please contact the arts team at or by using the contact details below.

Sam Wilkinson
m +44 (0)7917 153555




Contemporary Art Society Consultancy is one of UK's leading contemporary art advisory teams. We offer bespoke consultancy services, bringing our expertise in identifying outstanding creative talent to clients in the UK and internationally.

With 100 years of expert purchasing for public collections around the world, and over 30 years of experience in commissioning, curating and project management, our skill is in understanding each client's needs and creating visionary linkages to the best in contemporary art. What differentiates Contemporary Art Society Consultancy is we are non-profit: our advisory fees are reinvested back into our charitable mission to purchase new works to gift to public collections in the UK where they can be enjoyed by audiences today and tomorrow.

We offer tailored consultancy services including: 

  • curatorial advice to develop outstanding contemporary art collections – with an enviable track record of identifying promise amongst early career artists
  • a comprehensive commissioning service for developing new artworks – public art, interior commissions and site-specific installations
  • concept development and management for innovative exhibition and art programmes – communicating the brand through imaginative approaches
  • practical assistance with buying, selling, transporting, installation, valuation and maintenance to provide an ongoing service for your investment


For further information on the North West Cambridge Development please contact the arts team at or by using the contact details below.



Head of Consultancy
Fabienne Nicholas
Direct dial: +44 (0)20 7017 8409



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