Designing a housing estate can get a bit monotonous so Feilden Clegg Bradley brought in a couple of chums to swing along with
How many architects does it take to design a housing estate? In the case of Brooklands Avenue in Cambridge, the answer is three – if you leave it to the architects themselves to decide. Developer Countryside Properties thought it was only employing Feilden Clegg Bradley to design its 382-unit scheme in the city, but senior partner Keith Bradley had other ideas.

"We didn't want to design 382 units. The problem with estate housing is its repetition and the forced variation," he says. "So we brought in Maccreanor Lavington because of its experience in the Netherlands and Alison Brooks because of her one-off houses."

Both were slightly leftfield choices and this architectural dream team has produced some fairly radical designs, albeit using traditional materials, for central Cambridge's largest allocated housing site. Feilden Clegg Bradley's designs include an eight-storey tower with a green-oak expressed frame, and Alison Brooks Architects has used copper to roof houses and clad apartment blocks, one block having faceted basketweave-effect walls.

Maccreanor Lavington was a natural choice within the team to handle Dutch-style terraces, squeezing houses of up to 240 m2 on 5.2 m wide plots by building up to four storeys. The site will not be subdivided by conventional suburban gardens, but by public garden spaces containing fruit trees or herb gardens. "There will be no lawns and no herbaceous borders," Bradley says adamantly.

Countryside has been receptive to the architects' design proposals and is about to embark on construction of the £130m scheme. "I told Keith I didn't mind having more architects as long as I would have only one butt to kick," says Chris Crook, regional managing director at Countryside. "Some of the ideas here are fantastic and go into areas we would not have explored." The architectural cognoscenti seem impressed with their ideas, too, as the scheme is shortlisted for the RIBA 2003 Housing Design Awards, whose winners will be announced next week.