The brief called for a multi-disciplinary research facility to be located within Imperial College’s South Kensington Campus. The site is located on a narrow strip of land between the existing College Biochemistry Building to the north and the new Wellcome Wing extension of the Science Museum to the south. The building houses research and support laboratories with adjacent open plan offices, whilst the ground floor is occupied by a social area with seminar/meeting rooms which are shared by the different user groups.

The building geometry results from Rights of Light considerations to the neighbouring 169 Queens Gate and the Omani Embassy located to the west of the site. This created a stepped building with appropriate setbacks and a ‘green’ roof garden at Level 2. In order to minimise vibration within lab environments a concrete structure was chosen, and due to a relatively fast construction programme the use of precast infill floor slabs was adopted. Rather than undertake expensive below-ground enabling works, a new independent waterproof concrete shell was cast within the existing basement.

The laboratories are highly serviced and have ongoing maintenance requirements and a strategy was developed with the client to expose all services for easy installation and future access. To minimise service runs and crossovers, a large continuous riser zone was created to the north of the specialist labs allowing direct feeding of services from riser to lab space. To enable the open plan offices to take advantage of the only views and natural light they were situated to the west side of each level. The requirement for natural ventilation in office and social areas resulted in the specially designed rotating ventilators which are manually operated by the users. Solar control on the west façade is managed by the use of interstitial louvers within a fixed standard double glazed unit.

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 1997
  • Completion: 2001
  • Area: 6,500m²
  • Height: 42m
  • Capacity: 200
  • Client: Imperial College
  • Structural Engineer: Waterman Partnership
  • M+E Engineer: WSP Environmental Ltd
  • Landscape Architect: Edward Hutchinson
  • Additional Consultants: Edward Hutchinson, Sandy Brown and Associates, Per Arnoldi