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NBBJ Architects are set to deliver first-class project

University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

A prestigious project to amalgamate the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge is progressing well.

The Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy is responsible for the synthesis, processing and patterning of materials to form significant advances in addressing such issues as sustainability and resource use. The department is currently spread over five separate buildings, some of which date back to the 1870s and are therefore becoming unsuitable for conducting modern scientific research.

The new state-of-the-art facility, currently under construction at the University’s West Cambridge site will cover approximately 10,000 square metres and will include a mixture of research laboratories, support facilities, teaching space, offices and social space.

One particularly exciting feature is the electron microscope facility, which is being constructed on a two-metre deep concrete slab in order to eliminate ground borne vibration, with further measures also being incorporated to reduce electro-magnetic interference from external sources.

Boasting a patterned brick facade and glazed curtain walling, the building has also incorporated a range of sustainable features. These include passive solar design measures, naturally ventilated office spaces, a green roof and a photovoltaic array at roof level. The building is currently on target for a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.

The main contractor for the project is Willmott Dixon Construction and the architect is NBBJ.

Rebecca Mortimore, NBBJ, said:

“One of the biggest challenges we have faced is accommodating the various functions of the brief within a brick building without it looking old-fashioned. The ambition has been to create a building that is both contemporary and expresses the department’s unique identity.

University of Cambridge - image supplied by NBBJ

University of Cambridge – image supplied by NBBJ

“The new Materials Science & Metallurgy department is a quality addition to the West Cambridge site, which already celebrates an eclectic mixture of buildings.”

Mark Andrews, NBBJ, added:

“The department is comprised of a number of groups that focus on different aspects of materials science research. One of the key challenges of the brief has been to understand and respond to the complexities of the departments’ current needs, whilst also looking toward the future of research at the department.

“We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the main contractor Willmott Dixon, who have been integral to both the construction and pre-construction phase.”

The relocation to the University’s rapidly expanding Science and Technology site at West Cambridge will allow the department to engage in cross-disciplinary work with neighbours such as the Institute for Manufacturing, Electrical Engineering, the Computer Laboratory and Cambridge Enterprise.

The project has been made possible by generous funding from the Wolfson Foundation, The Ann D Foundation, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.

Professor Lindsay Greer, Head of the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, said:

“The project team have done a great job in meeting our requirements and we are very excited at the prospect of seeing our new home rise out of the ground. In addition to research, the building will incorporate teaching of undergraduate years 3 and 4, masters and doctorates.

“Uniting the department together in one building will enable the development of a highly integrated research facility, promoting better communication and reaction.”

The project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013.

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