Make & Nightingale Associates complete new medical laboratory for Oxford
Nightingale Associates and Make were commissioned by the University of Oxford to create a new purpose-built research building, the Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute (OMPI), as part of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology on the University’s science area. The brief was to replace an existing laboratory building with a new state-of-the-art facility.
The new 7,000-sq-m building creates a backdrop to the historic Dunn School and forms one wing of an existing cluster of interconnected buildings. Retaining its physical links with these buildings, OMPI has its main entrance at the point where the buildings intersect and is centred around a communal café space. This has simplified circulation across the site, and encouraged cross fertilisation of ideas between research groups.
On entry, an open staircase forms a focal point to the interior and rationalises the circulation. Bathed in natural light, the staircase is lined with timber, referencing the materials used in the existing buildings. The efficient linear plan has informed the detailing of every aspect of the lab spaces and the open plan primary laboratories have been designed to facilitate interaction and communication between research groups. The facade has been designed to respect the William-and-Mary style architecture of the Dunn School, linking the strong cornice and plinth lines and referencing the details and window proportions.
Taking inspiration from the pattern of the DNA ladder, horizontal louvers provide shading on the building’s southern facade whilst creating a calm backdrop to the Dunn School. Each row of louvres is finely rotated to balance views with daylight and shading needs, giving a layered effect to the facade that becomes less dense as the Dunn School overshadows it. A key factor in minimising carbon has been combining the University’s lab needs with that of the data centre in the building’s basement, creating an opportunity to use the heat generated by the data centre to provide power to the laboratory spaces using CCHP technology. The overall building has achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.