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University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences . Oxford. UK

Client
Oxford University Estates Directorate
Sector
Buildings
Services
Building Construction Support ServicesModular Manufacturing
Duration
2009-2010
Project partners
Wilkinson Eyre, Pell Frischmann, Hoare Lea

University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences . Oxford. UK

University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences . Oxford. UK

Full project details

A flagship building that will continue to attract the world's top academics.

Laing O'Rourke were appointed principal contractor delivering a modern, flexible space to optimise research opportunities and strengthen the Department’s international profile. We provided accommodation for 400 students, researchers and staff, with metal-free 'clean' laboratories, lecture theatres, conference rooms, offices and a library.

This multi-award winning geological research building was a hot-bed of innovation and one of the first projects to optimise delivery through our Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) process. It was designed to provide an open and interactive environment that will encourage scientists to share ideas. One wing houses state-of-the-art laboratories, the other offices and common rooms. 

Energy saving
Laboratories are separated from the offices so that the less highly serviced spaces can be naturally ventilated. In summer the passive design uses the thermal mass of the building for cooling and solar gain is reduced through user-controlled external blinds. We drilled 63 boreholes – 65m deep – to install ground source heating and cooling technologies that provide up to 35% of the building's energy. A post-tensioned slab system reduced the volume of concrete by 10% and GGBS cement replacement was selected for the structural elements. We precast the columns, stairs and cladding off site to minimise waste and improve on programme delivery times. 

Metal-free clean laboratories
The building's clean geochemistry laboratories were a considerable challenge; having to be completely metal-free to avoid interfering with the intended research. Designing and delivering them required the designers, end users and specialists to work closely to agree a suitable construction solution. 

Facade design
We collaborated with the Professor of Stratigraphy to select the most durable stone – the final design having geometric bands of Clipsham, Jura and Purbeck that create a dramatic 'narrative wall' to frame the entrance and advertise the nature of the work within. 

Awards

  • Considerate Constructors Scheme Gold (twice) 
  • CIOB Construction Manager of the Year

Project facts

One of the first projects to optimise delivery through our Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) process

Ground source heating and cooling technologies provide up to 35% of the building's energy

Zero H&S accidents across the whole project

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