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BDP wins contest for £250m John Innes Centre in Norwich

John Innes Centre, Norwich
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BDP is understood to have won the contest to design the £250 million expansion of the John Innes Centre (JIC), a scientific institute in Norwich, seeing off Stanton Williams and Grimshaw among others

According to sources, the AJ100 practice’s in-house engineering team has also been chosen, under a separate but linked tender, for the major 34,562m² expansion of the influential research and training institute, which specialises in plant and microbial science.

Others believed to have been in the running for the job include Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Jestico + Whiles and Sheppard Robson. The official result is not, however, expected to be announced until next week.

BDP had already completed an initial report detailing potential options for the 7ha project, which will deliver new research and office buildings along with 5,162m² of horticulture facilities on the suburban Norwich Research Park site by 2025.

The JIC first opened in 1910 as the John Innes Horticultural Institution in Merton, south London. The independent research institute was set up with funds bequeathed by the merchant and philanthropist John Innes. It moved to its present site in 1967.

Today the 28,000m² JIC complex comprises three large science buildings along with a library, administrative area, conference centre and insectary. Around 9,000m² of plant growth facilities are located nearby.

The centre specialises in improving wheat yields, investigating how plants and microbes deploy complex chemicals, and exploring how plant development is shaped by the environment.

Many of the JIC buildings were constructed in the 1960s and 1980s and are now considered ‘tired, dated and no longer fit for purpose in the new era of multidisciplinary science.’ Recent staff increases have also left the complex with ‘overcrowded’ working environments.

In its competition brief the JIC said it required ‘large-scale modernisation of its infrastructure … to sustain its leadership position and deliver its maximal impact for the UK bio-economy, UK food-security and international sustainable development goals for decades to come’.

BDP’s initial study into expansion options set out four separate approaches to the development with the studio’s ‘cluster’ proposal identified by JIC as the preferred scheme.

Both BDP and JIC have been contacted for comment. 

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