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Study box detail: The Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

[Working Detail 21.07.11] Study boxes at Cambridge University Sainsbury Laboratory

At first floor level along the perimeter of the ‘internal street’ is a series of spaces designed for use by individuals or pairs of scientists as places for informal work, reflection or discussion. These ‘study boxes’ have direct views of the Botanic Garden and back into the labs: a summary of the relationship of the building to its setting.

The human scale of these spaces is expressed internally and in the articulation of the facade around the central court. Tactile materials, oak linings and leather seating are used. The timber is also expressed on the exterior, where Iroko was specified in place of oak to reduce the risk of staining from tannins on the concrete.

The west-facing facade is extensively glazed to optimise views into the garden. Vertical fins between the study boxes, together with cantilevered soffits, provide a strongly modelled facade that provides reflected light to the interior and helps minimise solar gain. The primary structure of the building is expressed externally in exposed in situ concrete at first floor and roof level. Vertical steel trusses integrated into the facade support the roof slab.

Gavin Henderson, director, Stanton Williams

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