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Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy

Structural refurbishment to the building, including specialist chemistry facility for the University of Cambridge

Project Stats

Duration
112 weeks
Value
£32.2 m
Size
120,000 sq ft
Sector
Science and Technology

Project Story

The new space brought together under one roof the departments capability to research the complex subject of creating and improving new materials, including structural materials for subsea installations and the next generation of LEDs.

Within the building is the Wolfson Electron Microscopy Suite, built to the most exacting of specifications including acoustic noise, stray electromagnetic fields, vibration and temperature variations. One of the most controlled environments in the world has been created. To assist with the technical challenge, experts were brought in from San Francisco to consult with us on the construction techniques required to achieve exacting tolerances.

BIM modelling was used to develop the most appropriate low vibration solution and at handover the scheme’s vibration performance met exactly the specific requirements of the high performance microscopes. Innovative construction techniques and logistics were used to continuously pour a 1350m2 slab over a 24 hour period, including 5 cranes and 200 concrete pouring trucks.

The building, referred to as “the quietest building in the world” has been built with an ultra low vibration construction which now houses next generation electron microscopes. In addition, extensive research laboratory spaces across 6 floors of reinforced concrete construction have been created. These are complemented by teaching laboratories, seminar and meeting rooms, a learning resource centre, breakout areas and a café. A multi talented team has been accommodated in a new environment which enables them to produce quality research and teaching work.

The building reduces energy and water consumption using several features, notably a sophisticated mixed-mode ventilation system that provides ventilation to non laboratory areas. A large photovoltaic array mounted at roof level provides 3% of the total energy use of the building and an intensive green roof planted with wild flowers covering the EM suite provides both thermal and ecological benefits.

The project was one of the most technically challenging ever undertaken by the University and was delivered to considerable praise from the most knowledgeable staff operating from exceptional technical areas.
Project Outcomes
  • Creation of one the most controlled environments
  • Space for departments to research the complex subject of creating and improving new materials
  • BREEAM Very Good

Project Team

Stephen Hyde × Sector Lead
Willmott Dixon ×
Consultant team
Customer : University of Cambridge
Architect: NBBJ Structural engineer
Vibration and acoustics consultant : Colin Gordon Associates

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