[FIRST LOOK] Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make has won planning for a new research centre at the University of Oxford
The new big data centre will sit between two other laboratory buildings by Make – the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and the NDM Research Building.
Make’s four-storey scheme is based upon similar design principles to these two buildings featuring a masonry plinth, a single-storey height main entrance and set back rooftop plant.
The scheme includes a central top-lit atrium which provides light to the buildings seminar rooms, data storage facilities, and server space while acting as a reading room.
Housing more than 550 staff, the institute will provide research space for the study of the prevention and treatment of diseases, and will store, analyse and process vast amounts of health-related digital data.
The scheme forms part of the university’s ten-year masterplan.
The architect’s view
‘The composition of the façade expresses three key elements of the building: orientation, entrance and internal function. This results in a facade which appears more open along the north, and more solid along the south and west elevations to respond to solar gain. A veil of horizontal aluminium bands forms the basis of the main facade design, ensuring the building reads as a sibling to the adjacent NDM Research Building.
‘A new external public space is formed as part of the entrance sequence, in addition to enhancing the spaces outside the NDM and Kennedy Institute. A blend of hard and soft landscaping provides a balance of both formal and informal public spaces for people to meet and socialise. As part of the sustainability strategy for the building, a labyrinth is located beneath the lower ground floor which draws in air through the light well and uses the thermal mass of the ground to cool it, before circulating it to the main roof top plant room. This air is then distributed via floor plenums as part of an assisted natural ventilation strategy and extracted via the atrium using the stack effect.
‘The interior features an exciting, innovative approach to academic buildings with a predominantly open plan layout supplemented with cellular offices and a mixture of differing break-out spaces, each with their own character and ambience.’