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University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry . Oxford. UK

Oxford University
Building Construction Engineering Expertise
Project partners
RMJM, Faber Maunsell

University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry . Oxford. UK

University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry . Oxford. UK

Full project details

Proof positive that big modern buildings can also be good neighbours.

Laing O'Rourke was appointed as principal contractor to deliver this flagship development providing almost 17,000m2 of new research accommodation and bringing together formerly dispersed academic groups. Laing O’Rourke called upon its in-house businesses and extended supply chain to form a core team that has gone on to repeatedly prove its ability to respond to the needs and concerns of the city, as well as the university.

Built in the centre of the university's densely developed science area, this is the largest research facility in Oxford and its quality reflects the international reputation of the department. 

Building down to overcome the Carfax rule
Because new building in the city centre is height-restricted a double-basement was planned to meet the ambitious accommodation brief. Five floors of laboratories, two basement levels (the lower has specialist space) and three above ground, provide flexible generic laboratory space organised as 48 eight-person modules capable of being adapted to suit future changes in the 'style of science'. 

Delivering the departmental vision to budget
We extensively value engineered the project with the client and professional team to ensure that the design intent and performance requirements were never compromised; moreover, smart buying enabled design elements such as the fully glazed partitions that became characteristic 'writing walls'. 

Responding to the site constraints
The confined city centre site with heritage neighbours and busy roads demanded a carefully controlled construction sequence. To safeguard surrounding listed buildings and retain the basement, a diaphragm wall solution was designed. Because storage space was extremely limited, just-in-time delivery protocols were employed throughout. Meticulous logistics planning, attention to detail and committed stakeholder management meant we didn’t have a single neighbour complaint – even with a top-down construction that needed over 100 wagon movements a day.

  • RIBA Award
  • CIOB Construction Manager of the Year - Gold

Project facts

Flagship development provides almost 17,000m2 of new research accommodation

Two Basement Levels created on a very tight site

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