herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc

herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc

herzog & de meuron completes astrazeneca’s ‘discovery centre’

 

located in the middle of the cambridge biomedical campus (CBC) in cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca‘s ‘discovery centre (DISC)‘ by herzog & de meuron takes shape as a hovering triangular disc made of glass. the project, which now serves as the pharmaceutical company’s new global research and development (R&D) facility, was first announced back in 2013, after the swiss architecture firm was selected to develop it (see designboom’s previous coverage here, here and here). accessible from three different sides, the porous building loosely follows the shape of the site, and is defined by a saw-tooth roof that runs east to west to provide optimal natural light inside. the hovering glass disc with saw-tooth roof, which carries on through to the facade to create a tighter and larger vertical zig-zag geometry, gives the project its characteristic appearance.herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass discall images © hufton + crow

 

 

POROUS BUILDING MAKES SCIENCE VISIBLE FOR EMPLOYEES AND VISITORS

 

herzog & de meuron has set the four-story DISC on six rectangular glass boxes, grouped in three pairs, which together form an open courtyard. the courtyard marks the central point of the site, a meeting point, openly accessible from three different sides. in combination with the low-rise building structure, it stands as a reference to historical colleges in central cambridge.

 

the basel-based architects have placed the main programmatic element of the new AstraZeneca building, the laboratories, within the six rectangular glass boxes, which run vertically through all floors. the glazed perimeters of the above ground blocks promote maximum transparency across the floor and through the building, making science visible for employees and visitors. amenities such as the conference center, auditorium, café and restaurant are concentrated on the ground floor, with direct access from the main entrance to make them equally accessible for the entire building. meanwhile, the work spaces are developed through an open plan layout, which offers employees a range of alternative workplace settings, from private study spaces and quiet booths to informal employee collaboration spaces. along the inner ring, the main circulation space around the courtyard on the upper floors, there are additional complementary zones providing a range of diverse spaces for exchange, informal meetings and on-floor catering.herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc

 

 

the DISC’s material palette is minimized in order to ensure a clear distinction between different programs. the floor materials reflect the functional organisation of the building: natural stone for the entrances, rough sawn solid oak for main stairs and inner-ring area, and carpet for the offices and write-up floors. the floor in the laboratories is continuous white resin finish. the main partitions within the building are full height glass walls, allowing transparency and seamless transitions between the diverse areas. the other material of choice is exposed concrete, revealing the construction method and structural function while complementing glass and wood.

 

‘the functional diversity and the low rise of AstraZeneca’s the discovery centre allow each floor to be specific and different from one another,’ notes herzog & de meuron in the project’s description. ‘the underground level will contain support facilities, a loading area and plant zone; the street level is open and porous with both amenities and science on display in the laboratories; the first floor of the hovering disc is connected through the ring area and the second disc floor is top lit through the skylight of the saw-tooth roof. despite the distinct work environments of the floors, the building appears as one characteristic structure serving as a pivotal point for the entire CBC campus.’

herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc
the building is topped with a saw-tooth roof

herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc
the saw-tooth roof carries on through to the facade to create a vertical zig-zag geometry

herzog-and-de-meuron-astrazeneca-discovery-center-uk-designboom-large

herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc
rough sawn solid oak for the main stairs is combined with exposed concrete

herzog & de meuron completes AstraZeneca's R&D center in the UK as hovering glass disc
exposed concrete reveals the construction method and structural function while complementing glass and wood

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interior staircase
interior staircase
the living room
the living room
laboratory
laboratory

project info:

 

name: the discovery centre (DISC)

architect: herzog & de meuron

company: AstraZeneca

site area: 214’255 sqft / 19’905 sqm
gross floor area (GFA): 577’504 sqft / 53’652 sqm
GFA above ground: 386’628 sqft / 35’919 sqm
GFA below ground: 190’876 sqft / 17’733 sqm
number of levels: 4
footprint: 86’326 sqft / 8’020 sqm
length: 475 ft / 145 m
width: 511 ft / 156 m
height: 65 ft / 20 m
gross volume (GV): 12’297’055’111 cbft / 348’213’495 cbm
facade surface: 286’082 sqft / 26’578 sqm

photography: hufton + crow

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