The University of Oxford has received planning permission for a new £170M chemistry laboratory complex designed by Francis- Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT). This follows a unanimous vote in favour of the scheme by Oxford City Council’s West Area Planning Committee where the scheme was described as one of the most striking new buildings in Oxford. More images and complete press release after the break.
Known as Chemistry Oxford, the project will both augment the existing Chemistry Research Laboratory in the University’s Science Area and bring together researchers currently distributed across four different buildings. An additional 20,000sq m of flexible floor space will be created providing facilities that will meet the requirements of 21st century scientific research and allow the Department’s scientists to tackle many of the most important problems facing mankind today from medicine to energy and climate.
The proposed design presents a dynamic assembly of architectural forms that open dramatically to Mansfield and South Parks Roads, creating an exciting and memorable identity for the Department in this highly visible location.
The most prominent facade system is made up of automated shaped timber louvres set within a highly transparent glazed and ventilated cavity. This double skin system provides the new building with a rich vertically grained material quality that is intended to complement the colour, scale and texture of some of Oxford’s finest heritage architecture. The louvres allow occupant control of natural light and views and afford the option for natural ventilation and mixed-mode operation for workplace areas.
A new series of landscaped open spaces will create an enhanced context for the new building. In the tradition of Oxford’s great institutions and their related open spaces, this ‘Chemistry Green’ concept will enrich the surrounding public domain and further represent Chemistry’s presence in the Science Area.
The new building will form an architectural benchmark for Chemistry and the wider Science Area. It will house over 80 new research laboratories as well as analytical, technological and support facilities, providing space for a diverse range of research groups. State-of-the art teaching laboratories and lecture theatres are also provided. The new facility will be physically connected to the existing Chemistry Research Laboratory by an underground ‘street’. This light-filled spine will create a strong connection between the two facilities improving physical, functional and social linkages, and maximising the efficient use of space across the site.
The new Oxford Chemistry facility aims to be the ‘greenest’ Chemistry laboratory in the world and is currently targeting a minimum BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating but with aspirations to achieve “Outstanding” once completed. In addition the new building will also be designed to have the lowest possible energy use for a building of this type and is currently targeting between 20 – 50% lower than the existing Chemistry Research Laboratory.
The planning approval is timely, coming as it does in the UNESCO International Year of Chemistry, a celebration of Chemistry’s “essential contributions to knowledge, to environmental protection and to economic development.”
Architects: FJMT Location: Oxford, England Project Manager: PDCM Cost Manager: EC Harris Structural Engineers: Pell Frischmann Building Services Engineers: Hoare Lea Landscape Architect: FJMT Client: University of Oxford Images: Courtesy of FJMT