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Oxford University’s Largest Ever Building Project Gains Planning Consent

Oxford University’s Largest Ever Building Project Gains Planning Consent
12 February 2021

The 269,097 sq ft Life and Mind Building will provide research facilities to 800 students and 1,200 researchers at the University of Oxford.

Financed and developed by Legal & General, this will be The University of Oxford’s largest-ever building project, representing a major milestone for the £4bn Oxford University Development (OUD) partnership and its first landmark scheme.

Designed by architect practice NBBJ, the building will house the departments of experimental psychology and biology, including plant sciences and zoology. The project cost is estimated at £200 million. 

The Life and Mind Building is due to open in 2024, replacing the Tinbergen Building which closed in February 2017. 


Design Approach – Flexible and Adaptable to Changing Needs


The design promotes engagement between the fields of research and education, taking advantage of the efficiencies and flexibility a shared building can offer. Large parts of the building have been designed to suit multiple laboratory types, allowing it to flex, adapt and reconfigure to respond over time to the changing needs of dynamic science. 

For example, demand for simulation focused dry-labs might increase over time within one area, while specialist growth and testing environments for plants need expanding elsewhere in the building.

The building provides space for teaching, flexible and specialist bio-science laboratories for research, as well as a wide range of testing spaces for research into human behaviour, perception, development and mental health. Shielded rooms allow electroencephalograms (EEG) to track and record brainwave patterns; alongside eye-tracking and retinal scanner facilities; audio booths, motor labs and a sleep laboratory.


Influenced by Oxford’s Historic Architecture


In order to integrate the building into Oxford’s historic architecture, the design has taken inspiration from Oxford’s historic college buildings. Its facade will use reconstituted stone, punched windows and projecting buttresses to create a timeless appearance that fits within the townscape. It will also include a rooftop restaurant and event space overlooking Oxford’s historic spires.

Ingo Braun, Design Director at NBBJ London commented: “Following an immensely collaborative period of engagement with the departments and University, we are proud to have designed a light-filled, welcoming, and flexible space for staff and students which can be public-facing but also facilitate the world-class learning and scientific research the University is known for. 

“The design will enhance the experience and wellbeing of the building’s many occupants and visitors, promoting retention and attraction of world-class talent in life and mind research.”

Picture: an artist’s impression of the Life and Mind Building. Image credit: Legal & General

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 12 February 2021


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