Stapleford Granary

ACE Foundation

location | Cambridge  year | 2018  value | £1.5m  size | 827m2

The ACE Foundation is a Cambridge based charity with the aim of encouraging and developing cultural understanding. Providing support for educational projects, courses and summer schools, both locally and internationally, the ACE Foundation has played a pioneering role in adult and continuing education. The Foundation provides a whole host of educational activities, from worldwide study tours to financial support for a variety of educational projects around the globe.

The Foundation purchased a Victorian farm in 2009 on the outskirts of Cambridge with the vision of creating an inspiring space for education, culture, music and the arts.

This project has been about creating a home for the Foundation within the precious and characterful setting of the re-energised farm and granary– a place to provide facilities for events and courses, a sustainable working environment for the study tour team and importantly a focal point and accessible amenity for the community both locally and regionally.

The first phase of the development saw the granary and immediate outbuildings transformed into a small performance space for 60 people. It comprised the granary hall, an outstanding multi-use space for chamber music, lectures and exhibitions; recording facilities; seminar room; and some office space.

Subsequently, MCW Architects were commissioned to undertake the detail design and implementation of the, £1.5m second phase works to complete the refurbishment and add new build elements to complete the original vision. This now completed second phase has connected the Granary with a new glazed linking structure to an existing barn which has been converted into office space for the ACE Cultural Tours team. The ground floor of the granary, along with the existing cart lodge, is a creative space for both fine and applied art. The link acts as a foyer, gathering space and long gallery and opens onto a south facing external terrace – which will be shaded with wisteria ( in 5 years !) on an oak pergola. A new front door opens into a double height lobby which joins office space to foyer. A dilapidated cart lodge has become a space for a ceramics and jewellery studio. A walled garden will be created beyond the office barn within the original farm yard.

The redevelopment of this sensitive site was carried out in a way that retains the character of the existing fabric and spaces whilst being able to breathe new life into the place so that it can support and sustain the uses and needs of the Foundation into the future use black stained timber and locally sourced brick. Where new window openings were required, the scale and location reflect how they would have been traditionally handled. Pitched roof forms were retained.


The ACE Foundation has been working with MCW for a couple of years on Stapleford Granary, a project that will ultimately provide a range of spaces for art and music activities, as well as associated offices, within the fabric of a redundant granary and related outbuildings, in a sensitive location on the edge of the Green Belt within the village boundary of Stapleford. The architects at MCW have engaged enthusiastically with the project and have helped us to explore options in relation to costs and configurations, as well as bringing attractive fresh ideas as to how the spaces could work for us. The team at MCW are always a pleasure to deal with and combine pragmatism with design flair and a fine eye for detail.
— Paul Barnes, ACE foundation.