Alconbury Incubator

Huntingdon. 2013

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2013
  • Clients: Urban and Civic

Following on from the design of three new gatehouses for Urban & Civic and as part of an overall environmental vision, The Alconbury Incubator anchors an emerging Enterprise Campus to catalyse the development of a new mixed-use community near Huntington, 60 miles north of London. A narrow and transparent two-storey volume – patterned with a subtle chessboard of glazing and solar shading – runs parallel to the ex-airfield site’s new boulevard and kicks up at its north-east corner to enclose a four-storey tower that both announces the site and offers a bird’s eye view across the emerging masterplan. Behind it sits a two-storey black box, larch-clad and punctuated by a grid of large openings that draw natural light into the flexible working spaces. These spaces, ranging from 250 to 2,500 square feet, will accommodate local businesses for activities ranging from research development to production. Auxiliary spaces including a café, a marketing suite, meeting rooms, and break-out balconies are dotted around the glazed gallery to animate the building’s public face and engender opportunities for social exchange.


RIBA East Region Award 2015 BCO Regional Award 2014

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The history of the site

Located around 5 miles north of the market town of Huntingdon, RAF Alconbury was an occupied airbase from 1938 to 1995 under the control of the British and later, the American Air Forces. The base was used continuously for 57 years and planes provided support for the Second World War, the Cold War, and the Gulf War. Numerous planes which flew from Alconbury, including Bristol Blenheims, Vickers Wellingtons, B-24 Liberator Bombers and the notorius Lockheed U-2 Spy planes. The site was effectively closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1995 and the infrastructure material remains on the site; its hangars, control centres, bunkers and huts, reflect a complex and fascinating history.

Some of these are now designated heritage assets:

- Grade II Listed Watch Office + Operations Room

- 13 no Grade II* Listed U-2 Hardened Aircraft Shelter

- Grade II* Listed Avionics Building Jet


The site today

Shipping containers on the runway Storage of used porterkabins Temporary holding of newly imported vehicles Recycling of plastics and palettes Since the site’s closure in 1995, it has largely fallen under temporary uses, and is currently occupied by a number of short term commercial tenants. The site was purchased by Urban & Civic in 2009, but a small portion remains active, under the occupation of the United States Air Force, though without the use of the runway. Urban & Civic are currently in the process of developing a masterplan for a mixed use site, with the remit of creating 8000 new jobs within a newly designated Enterprise Zone and 5000 new homes. U&C have inherited a number of short term commercial tenants, mostly storage and distribution companies.





















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