The multi- award winning Sainsbury Laboratory has won yet more awards; a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award given to Britain’s 50 best new buildings and the RIBA East Building of the Year Award.
As a result, the Sainsbury Laboratory is one of six buildings shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2012. The Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize and is awarded to the project built or designed in Britain “which has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year.” The winner will be announced at a special event in October 2012.
The Sainsbury Laboratory is a plant science research centre located in the University of Cambridge’s Botanic Garden.
The £82 million project was funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, established by Lord Sainsbury, which has supported UK research in plant sciences since the mid-1980s.
The main contractor was Kier Regional and the architect was Stanton Williams Architects.
Construction began in February 2008 and was completed in December 2010, the Laboratory has been in use since January 2011 providing a world-class research facility.
The Laboratory combines the practical scientific requirements of a working laboratory with the need for a piece of architecture which also responds to its landscape setting.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden was originally conceived in 1831 by Professor Henslow, Charles Darwin’s mentor, as a place in which plant species would be systematically ordered and catalogued.
The building was therefore designed to be “rooted” in its setting and connections between the building and garden have been central to its conception.
There are two storeys visible above ground and one below ground level, in order to reduce the height of the building and to ensure efficient environmental control. Glazing is used to connect the building to the garden beyond.
The use of bands of limestone and exposed in situ concrete suggest geological concepts and the Darwinian idea of evolution over time.
Alan Stanton, Director at Stanton Williams, said:
“The Sainsbury Laboratory is a highly energy efficient laboratory building which has been designed for a long life, with a robust structure and a high level of adaptability for future needs. Efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems, together with high levels of insulation and air-tightness in the facades and roof have enabled the building to significantly exceed emission targets set in Building Regulations and the energy rating targets for laboratory buildings. The building was awarded a BREEAM rating of Excellent.
“Technical aspects of the building’s sustainability are carefully integrated into the overall design. Particular attention has been paid to maximising day lighting and to harvesting of rainwater for irrigation purposes. On site renewable energy is provided by 1000m2 of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the laboratory, providing 10% of the building’s energy load.
The Sainsbury Laboratory houses a variety of facilities including laboratories, the university’s herbarium, meeting rooms, an auditorium, social spaces and a public cafe.
Alan Stanton added:
“The building has already gained significance for the academic and scientific community. For the public, it contributes to the experience and enjoyment of the Botanic Garden, underlining the significance of its scientific remit, and providing new public facilities with a new public cafe.”
The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced at a special event in Manchester on Saturday 13 October, 2012.
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