The Photonics Centre is a base for research into optics, opto-electronics and laser technology. It includes two new buildings: the 'Amoeba' and the 'Hall', connected by an underground tunnel. The buildings are clad with undulating glazed facades, which differ in construction to reflect the different activities behind them. Blinds and louvres of different colours set behind the facades appear to 'clad the buildings with a varying spectrum of colour'.
The Hall is a single-storey building consisting of a flexible production space, 7.5m high, for large-scale experiments. The concrete roof slab is supported by steel columns set back 2m inside the perimeter to accommodate the undulations of the facade. This comprises double-glazed units in an anodised-aluminium glazing system, faceted at the mullion posts and fixed back to extruded aluminium wind-posts. These are star-shaped in section and are pivoted to accept the mullion fixing. Horizontal louvre blinds are fixed to each side of the aluminium post.
The Amoeba, the larger building, is three storeys high and has a deep plan to accommodate optical laboratories at the centre and offices along the perimeter. The floors and roof are formed of U-shaped precast concrete beams supported by precast columns; two rows of columns run down the centre of the building to create a 'spine' corridor, and a series of 700 x 200mm paired columns run around the perimeter. The deep columns allow the creation of a double-skin facade - an external facade of laminated glass panels in an aluminium glazing system, and an internal facade of sliding sash windows and fixed lights, also in an aluminium glazing system. The double skin gives natural ventilation while providing a thermal buffer zone. The narrow zone between the columns is used for air-exhaust; the wide zone is used for air-intake.