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Exclusive: Hawkins\Brown wins £6m Reading innovation centre contest

Johnson Matthey, Reading
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Hawkins\Brown has won a competition for a £6 million innovation centre for multinational chemical company Johnson Matthey near Reading, the AJ has learned

The practice – which is shortlisted for this year’s AJ100 Employer of the Year award – is understood to have won the RIBA-organised contest against second-placed Napier Clarke.

The contest sought a team to create a new complex for the FTSE 100 company, which specialises in chemicals and sustainable technologies such as emission control catalysts for vehicles.

The project – according to the RIBA’s original competition announcement – will deliver an ‘innovative and flexible’ facility where the company can work with customers to deliver new products on its main site within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to Henley-on-Thames.

The new ‘statement building’ is expected to create a high-quality visitor experience at the Sonning site and target BREEAM Outstanding. Other finalists invited to present to the judging panel last October included Design Engine Architects and WilkinsonEyre.

The Johnson Matthey campus was created on the site of the former Blounts Court country house on the fringes of Sonning Common in the mid-1970s. Today the site hosts around 250 staff working on hydrogen fuel cells, catalytic converters and other clean energy technologies.

Images of the winning and shortlisted designs have yet to be revealed.

All parties declined to comment.

The full shortlist

  • Hawkins\Brown with Buro Happold and B|D Landscape (winner)
  • Design Engine Architects with SWECO, Eckersley O’Callaghan and LUC
  • Napier Clarke with Atelier Ten, Expedition Engineering and Grant Associates
  • WilkinsonEyre with Buro Happold and Churchman Landscape Architects
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