Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine

Part of a strategic affiliation between the University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council, we worked with Oxford-based architects BGS to extend and consolidate the existing structures belonging to the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, a leading medical research centre.

Two existing buildings needed to be retained and worked around; situated adjacent to each other, the first, a two-storey structure, was built in the 1960s, whilst the nearby three-storey building was added in the 1980s. These structures were in good condition, with no alterations required during the process.

The plan for this new stage of redevelopment was to raise the height of the older structure by a storey, and to introduce two new three-storey buildings to fill the gap between the existing buildings, making more efficient use of the space. These new elements were to house laboratory accommodation, with the addition of a single-storey interaction area and green sedum roof, to encourage discussion between staff. Throughout construction the existing facility needed to remain open and functional, so we undertook careful planning and sequencing to ensure the safety of all those using the building.

A more prominent entrance area was created at the front of the building to further establish its sense of identity. Where possible, construction methods used in the original buildings were repeated. In terms of the foundations, we used isolated pads located close to the existing footings, with ground beams over to support a steel-framed superstructure, chosen for its speed of construction and lightweight properties. A particularly complex process was the extension of existing stairs, requiring areas of the existing roof slab to be broken out and recast.

Vibrations were considered throughout and kept within acceptable tolerances due to the presence of sensitive equipment. To limit movement, we improved lateral stability via concrete shear walls and braced steel bays. Services were transferred within the floor zone to allow easy access and to increase floor-to-ceiling heights.

Extension and consolidation of an existing medical research centre

Oxford, UK
The University of Oxford Estates Directorate
Berman Guedes Stretton
£ 8.5 million