[First look + plans] Nightingale Associates and Make have completed this £32 million Molecular Pathology Institute (OMPI) building for the University of Oxford
Replacing the university’s Leslie Martin Building, the 7,000m2 laboratory is Make’s and Nightingale’s second science building commission in Oxford having previously collaborated on the university’s Old Road Campus laboratory building which completed in 2007.
Designed to encourage communication between research groups, the building is connected to a medical school and the university’s EPA Building and Dunn School where the discovery of Penicillin and antibiotics was pioneered in the 1930s.
William James, professor of virology at the Dunn School said: ‘The Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute provides an inspiring working environment that enables many previously disparate groups to work in flexible, collaborative groupings in state-of-the-art facilities.
‘It achieves this within a relatively limited budget and with a very high degree of space efficiency, as a result of a great deal of careful and imaginative design effort. As a piece of the built environment, it sits extremely comfortably with its neighbours, quietly and politely making its presence felt; a genuinely contemporary building that will stand the test of time.’
Justin Nicholls, project architect and partner at Make, added: ‘We are really pleased with the finished building.
‘We felt it was important for our contemporary building to work in harmony with the Dunn School, both visually and in terms of layout and navigation.
‘OMPI works as a respectful supporting act to the William and Mary-style Dunn School and ensures that the buildings – and the researchers within them – all work together.’
The ideal approach to designing a laboratory is to design from the bench up: from inside to outside
The design features ‘strong’ cornice and plinth lines and horizontal terracotta louvers inspired by the DNA pattern. Internally, the scheme features open plan primary laboratories which are designed to facilitate interaction and communication between research groups. The research and write-up benches have also been combined to ‘prioritise communication and minimise interruptions.’
Adrian Gainer, Nightingale Associates director said: ‘The ideal approach to designing a modern laboratory building is to design from the bench up: from inside to outside.
‘This approach was adopted on the OMPI project with great success. The result is an impressive integrated design solution that works from bench to façade, providing both an inspirational and a functional environment for modern research.’
CCHP technology has been used to warm the laboratories using the heat from a computer network data centre in the basement, achieving an estimated 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and landing the project a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.
Make and Nightingale previously collaborated on the university’s Old Road Campus laboratory building which completed in 2007.