From Show Home to Public Home


A Farewell from the Residents in Residence

Britt and Elyssa are Residents in Residence for Habitorials: A Showground for Real Living. Both artists, they moved into a show home on Countryside Properties’ Abode development in January 2015. They have lived there part time for the past year, experiencing what it would be like to be residents in an expanding contemporary urban development in Trumpington. They got to know the area and the people who live in it by hosting a series of neighbourhood gatherings, big and small, that responded to some of the issues and changes that they saw around them. Habitorials: A Showground for Real Living is a 3-year public art project that offers residents the opportunity to reflect, imagine and build the future of their community.

The very first time we opened the door and stepped into our new fully furnished house, it felt like we were walking into a John Lewis catalogue. For the first few months, we kept on setting the table back to its original Show Home staging – set for six people to have a three-course dinner.

We spent a year living as ‘residents in residence’ in this three-bedroom Show Home with a view out onto the Countryside’s Marketing suite and the Addenbrooke’s Road roundabout. We discovered that living in a Show Home was sometimes confusing – were we in a private or public space? There was a sign next to our front door that announced the ‘show’ aspect of our temporary new home to all passers-by. Often people would knock on the door or if we hadn’t locked it, they sometimes just wandered in to have a look around. Some people were horrified by the idea that they could have been intruding, others intrigued and some didn’t seem to think it at all unusual that the house came with ‘show’ residents. So we showed visitors around, often deftly sweeping up a dirty towel or a used cup along the way.

Developing on this idea of a Show Home and a public resident, we started to invite people around for visits to talk about what might happen here. We started meeting our neighbours. When Thury, who lives around the corner, first came to visit with her little daughter Elisa, we sat down to have coffee on the gleaming white sofas. As we talked, Elisa got out her pink lip gloss, showed it to us, put it on her lips and then started to climb all over the sofa. Every time we see the little pink stains it reminds us of the relief and pleasure we felt that the house had officially been ‘broken in’. Thank you, Elisa!

We worked together with other residents to extend the Show Home’s domestic space into a public one, staging a question or an issue that had arisen around public life or community life. For example, we transformed the ground floor of the Show Home into a Showground Library and Real Living Café in order to host formal and informal discussions about the new community and health centre being built in Hobson’s Square. Many of our neighbours wondered how it would take shape - physically and organisationally - so we thought we should just get on with modelling an imagined Community Centre in the Show Home. The Show Home started to slowly transform into a ‘showground of real living’; a show and tell home of public life and a test site for community encounters.

One of the questions we had asked ourselves when working on events was: which voices are not often publicly heard around here? This led us to invite a group of young people from different parts of the area to spend time together sharing ideas about ‘real living’. They developed ideas for a series of short films in response to their experience of living in Trumpington, which they then wrote, directed, shot and acted in. As part of the process of making Trumpington Show Reals, we asked them what kind of vegetable Trumpington might be. ‘A big fat potato’, was one of the answers, because: ‘It’s good for everyday cooking. It is a bit ugly but very versatile and has a lot of potential!’ There was an immediacy about the way this group regarded their local community. They didn’t choose to live here, so they didn’t have to ask themselves if they’d made a good choice, or if it was really the place that was advertised to them. They also didn’t necessarily see Trumpington as part of a future they had to invest in. While for some this might make them seem like less than ideal community builders, it became clear to us that they are brilliant critical friends and a fantastic resource for any community.

By the summer we started to feel like the show home had truly transformed into a house where the public could gather. There were two particular moments that marked this change for us. The first was when the chickens arrived to live in the Show Garden, behind the Show Home. Lisanne, better known to some as Lorelei Lodestar (her artist and gardener persona), had been caring for the chickens. Throughout the year Lorelei has been active in the garden, sharing her skills with new residents, offering a plant swop box outside our front door and bringing plants from the older parts of Trumpington to plan in the newer part. When she went on summer holiday she passed the caring responsibilities for the chickens and garden on to kids from the neighbouring streets of the new development. With the garden gate on the latch different people stopped by to feed or just look at the chickens.

The second moment was when we hosted our first Show Home pub. Unlike the other events, which had been actively initiated by looking for a ‘topic’, nobody quite remembers who came up with the idea of the pub. Maybe somebody said, ‘It’s a pity that we don’t have a proper local, a space where we can just turn up and meet neighbours.’ So that led us to set up a monthly pub night – on the third Thursday of every month. Sometimes when people come to the pub they ask if they should take their shoes off. In fact, Jussi often turns up in his house shoes. The lines between the public and the domestic have become truly blurred, which is a good thing, in our eyes.

This strange blurring between public and domestic might also make it possible to be more inclusive when community members come together. Public meetings can be quite scary for some. Sometimes it can be easier to say something important while standing in a doorway (ideally wearing a pair of slippers!). Of course, it is fair to say that sometimes we encouraged people to perform in public under the guise of a ‘harmless’ community event. It is a Show Home after all and that weird sense of being in a constructed film or theatre set has always been very present for us. Others have commented on the relationship between the Show Home and the fake town populated by actors central to the conceit of the Truman Show. That’s why it was so much fun to rearrange the space into many different sets; a museum, a conference summit table, a cinema, a library, a café, a training centre, a community kitchen, a garden show, and, of course, a pub.

The Show Home has been and constantly is in the process of becoming a community residence. Over time, others have played the resident in residence role and hosting duties have moved between different people. People have written to us with ideas for things they could run from the space – from a neighbourly exchange of skills and services to a meeting, or maybe a café or a small restaurant. The fluid, performative aspect of the space allows people to try out things.

Last May at the Showground Library and Real Living Café event, we hosted Alison Wheeler from the co-operative library system in Suffolk. She ended her case study presentation with the following words: ‘Community ownership is about more than giving people a voice. It is about giving people a role.’ We agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment and would add that sometimes it is even better if community ownership is about people taking on a role themselves. In order for that to be possible, it is important that the same people don’t play the same role for too long.

And so, in order to continue to create space for new hosts and new performances of community, we need to step aside and take our leave from the Show Home. It has been a pleasure to be in your company. Countryside Properties, the show home owner, have generously agreed to keep the space open for public use for another 6-9 months, leading up to the opening of the new community centre. While the show home will not have permanent residents in residence anymore there will be neighbours taking care of the organizational side of things. The show home is no longer modeling a space for private lives. It continues its transformation into a hybrid domestic public space - still somehow a home, but a collective one.

Good-bye show home and welcome Public Home. May you continue to serve as a stage and a safe place to perform, trial, build, plan, negotiate and celebrate this thing called community.

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Trumpington- the blueprint for an award winning community?

A Visitor's Reflection by Cecilie Sachs Olsen

As a place to live, this has everything

Carol Holloway

Lives inSefton Close (off Scotsdowne Road)

Moved to Trumpington in1990

Type of housing4-bedroom detached house, built in the 1960s

Current market valuearound £420,000 (according to Zoopla)

Favourite place in Trumpington“Byron’s Pool is my number one spot. I like the wildlife and the peace and the water and the trees, and all that stuff, which is wonderful.I also have also a fondness for the railway crossing that goes across the fields to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. My husband Jimmy (then my boyfriend) and I walked down there one evening when we were commuting between London and Cambridge and had a conversation about our future. We decided there that we were going to stay together long term. A month later I was pregnant. It feels like that spot has a force field under the ground! There’s a bridge there now. I know this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I love seeing Addenbrooke’s Hospital on the horizon. Partly because I worked there and partly because we had our wedding reception there, at the Frank Lee Centre.”


It's Like Being in Heaven

Tatenda Mukumbira

Lives inSpring Drive, Trumpington Meadows

Moved to Trumpington inDecember 2012

Type of housing3-bedroom terraced house, finished in the 2012, rented from housing association

Current market value2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses on the Trumpington Meadows are being advertised from £429,995 to £649,995 on Barratt’s website

Current council rent£165 per week

Favourite place in Trumpington"I love the parks because I love the fresh air I get when I’m out. The atmosphere helps me think up great ideas and I love playing with the kids or watching them play when I take my brother and sister out. It’s always full of excitement and laughter. Even in the horrible winter weather, it never loses its warmth – and I think there’s some beauty in that."

Location, location, location

Sam Cooke

Lives inBishops Road

Moved to Trumpington in2008

Type of housing3-bedroom semi-detached house, built in 1937

Current market valueHouses on Bishops Road have a current average value of £432,257, according to Zoopla

Favourite place in Trumpington"My favourite place in Trumpington is the Cooke Curtis & Co office. Obviously. The reason we liked this location on Trumpington High Street was because everyone knew where the Hobby Shop was. It’s a bit of a shame it closed down, because it was such a landmark, which is why we’ve kept the sign… But we didn’t feel like we were taking away a valuable village resource that could have been something great for the community."


One year in Trumpington: Living the eco dream

Lorna & Dave Rayner

Lives inLingrey Court, behind Anstey Way

Moved to Trumpington inJanuary 2015 (left in January 2016)

Type of housingFour-bedroom, semi-detached eco-home, newly built

Current market valueAround £550,000

Favourite place in Trumpington“Our favourite place in Trumpington is the park and field in the Foster Road estate – the children also love it too!”

Trumpington Through Time

Stephen & Shirley Brown

Lives inBishops Road

Moved to Trumpington in1974

Type of housing2-bedroom detached house, built in 2013

Current market valueHouses on Bishops Road have a current average value of £432,257, according to Zoopla

Favourite place in Trumpington"Shirley’s favourite place is her own garden, while Stephen’s is away from the city in the countryside."

Please note: some of the images included with this article were supplied by Stephen Brown. The image of the Plant Breeding Institute is supplied courtesy of the PBI. The black and white image is courtesy of Maurice Rayner.


This is our “forever home”

Catherine Wallace

Lives inConsort Avenue, Trumpington Meadows with her husband Derek, 48, and three children (Charlotte, 13; Alice, 10; James, 5)

Moved to Trumpington inOctober 2013

Type of housing4-bedroom terraced house, built in the 2013, rented from housing association

Current market value2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses on the Trumpington Meadows are being advertised from £429,995 to £649,995 on Barratt’s website

Current council rent£168 per week

Favourite place in Trumpington"Some of my fondest memories are of taking the children over to the park near the Pavilion. The children were relaxed and we’d pop into the Bun Shop [on Anstey Way] and get some treats.”

Trumpington Treasures

Sam & Steve Harris

Lives inShelford Road

Moved to Trumpington inSteve and his wife Dee moved to Trumpington in 1972; they share their house with their youngest son Sam, his wife Fran and their two young daughters, Katie and Amy

Type of housing3-bedroom terraced house, built in 1902

Current market valueSimilar houses on Shelford Road have a current value of around £455,000, according to Zoopla

Favourite place in TrumpingtonSteve loves going along to the car boot sale at the Trumpington Park and Ride on Sunday mornings to pick up a bargain. Sam’s favourite spot is the newly named local pub, the Hudson’s Ale House.


The Best of All Worlds

David Plank & Jen Runham

Lives inCedar Road, Novo development

Moved to Trumpington inAugust 2013

Type of housing4-bedroom detached house, built in 2013

Current market valueCurrent value of around £583,000, according to Zoopla (the house cost £490,000 in 2013)

Favourite place in TrumpingtonJen: “My house. I love the sun rises and the sunset. It’s just different every day. It’s fantastic.”

David: “I love the house but I also particularly like the walk down by the River Cam. It’s beautiful down there, it really is."

Is this Trumpington’s Time?

A writer's afterthought - by Vicky Anning


Episode 4: Community Gardens

The Show Garden Garden Show

Trumpington Show Reals

Short films made by young film makers


Episode 3: The Making of Trumpington Show Reals

Look behind the scenes and meet the film makers

Episode 2: Hobson's Square

Showground Cafe and Real Living Library


Showground of REAL LIVING

An introduction by Aislinn White

Field of Dreams

Joan Haylock


Lives inByron Square

Moved to Trumpington in1966

Type of housingThree-bedroom, end of terrace council house, built in 1947

Current market valueCurrent market value of around £260,000 (according to Zoopla)

Current council rentApprox £120 per week

Favourite place in TrumpingtonSitting on a chair in her dining room looking out over the recreation ground


We’re community builders

Jens Kirschner


Lives inChaplen Street

Moved to Trumpington inMarch 2013

Type of housingFour-bedroom, three storey, private house, built in 2013

Current market valueCurrent value Around £534,000 (according to Zoopla)

A Countryside Property

Antony Pemberton


Lives inTrumpington Hall

Moved to Trumpington inThe Pemberton family have been resident in Trumpington since 1715. They originally came from Pemberton in Lancashire.

Type of housingManor house first built circa 1600, with 600 acres of land

Current market valueundisclosed

Favourite place in TrumpingtonTrumpington Hall


Everyone’s a newbie here

Georgie Morrill & David Willsher

Age31/ 46

Lives inChaplen Street

Moved to Trumpington inMay 2013

Type of housingTwo-bedroom apartment rented from housing association

Current market valueAround £299,000

Current council rent£150 per week

Favourite place in TrumpingtonApart from their home, their favourite place in Trumpington is the beer garden at the Lord Byron, where they like to stop off for a refreshing pint after a Sunday walk to Grantchester.

I feel grief for the loss of place

Ceri Galloway


Lives inFoster Road

Moved to Trumpington in2003

Type of housingThree-bedroom terraced former council house, built in 1947

Current market valueAround £310,000 (according to Zoopla)

Favourite place in TrumpingtonNine Wells – a nature reserve with several chalk springs that form the source of Hobson’s Conduit, which carries water along Hobson’s Brook into the heart of Cambridge.


My friends’ nickname for Trumpington is ‘Trampington’

Tom Warburton


Lives inPaget Road

Moved to Trumpington in2003

Type of housingThree-bedroom terraced council house, built in 1946

Current market valueAround £250,000 (according to Zoopla)

Favourite place in TrumpingtonCommunity Orchard

I get on with all my neighbours

Tanya Jolley


Lives inPartridge Close

Moved to Trumpington inJuly 2013

Type of housingThree-bedroom end of terrace house, rented from housing association

Current council rentAround £154 per week

Favourite place in Trumpington“I love my house”


In Search of Common Ground

A writer's afterthought - by Vicky Anning

Residents in residence

Live it. Love it. Buy it.


The story continues at Clay Farm Community Garden...

The Public SHED at Clay Farm Community Garden has become a hub for gardening activities and classes, social events and all sorts of meetings, hosted by gardener and artist-in-residence Lorelei Lodestar. If you would like to know more about progress on site and how you can get involved with the design and development of the permanent building and growing spaces visit or follow us at and/or