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Biochemistry Building, University of Oxford

Dealing with sensitive sites to transform the University’s science programs

  • Oxford, United Kingdom

    Oxford, United Kingdom

Determining the most sustainable framing solution

The Biochemistry Department at Oxford University is the largest in the United Kingdom—it’s internationally renowned for their research work in DNA, cell growth, and immunity. The building achieves a new ethos of interdisciplinary working, where the exchange of ideas is promoted in a large collective and connective environment.

Working collaboratively with architects HawkinsBrown, we provided structural engineering design to the building. A top-down basement wall construction was used to reduce ground movements to protect the Grade I Pitt Rivers Museum that sits five metres from the building. The carbon footprint was calculated for different structural options to determine the most sustainable framing solution.

The framing also provided cost-effective perimeter cantilever details and support to retaining walls in the two-storey, 10-metre deep, steel-framed basement. The specific structural designs we created achieved a vibration-free environment for the use of electron microscopes. 

The building is a contemporary response to a sensitive site surrounded by listed buildings. It is the first of two phases that have started the process of transformation of the science area giving researchers the space to concentrate on intense work in highly serviced laboratories in the completed building.

At a Glance

  • Oxford University Estates
Steel Design Award 2009
RIBA Award 2009
Meet Our Team

Philip Secker, Regional Director

Structural engineers have a key role to play when considering the flexibility of space within new and existing buildings.

Philip Secker

Regional Director

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