Oxford North

Best-in-class laboratory building for life sciences

Gort Scott has been commissioned to design a new flexible life sciences laboratory at Oxford North, an ambitious new science and technology district being developed by Stanhope, Thomas White Oxford and Cadillac Fairview.

Planning permission for the second phase of development at Oxford North, including three new laboratories designed by Gort Scott, Wilkinson Eyre and Fletcher Priest, has been successfully obtained, marking a significant step forward in the project’s development.


The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of biotechnology innovation and the need for workspace that fosters collaboration, connectivity and wellbeing. Oxford North is envisioned to serve such a need, providing a new tech-quarter to live, work, learn, and visit, supported by strong transport connections to the city centre and other key employment hubs, complemented by an expanding public transport network and key cycling routes.

‘Plot C’, designed by Gort Scott, will provide a highly flexible new laboratory building at the heart of this emerging new science quarter. Inspiration has been sought from Oxford’s working tradition of making and manufacturing, captured in the city’s rich built industrial heritage, exhibiting robust envelopes, utilitarian configurations and articulated roofscapes. Similarly, the character of Oxford North seeks to reflect the modern forms of work it has been conceived to accommodate, developing a distinctive identity reflective of its 21st century context.

Sustainable design has been central to project decision making, led by the Client’s progressive ESG Strategy, with a strong focus on minimizing the buildings whole-life carbon footprint and targeting BREEAM Excellent. Plot C will be lean and efficient, exceeding Building Regulations, prioritising energy savings through passive and energy efficient design before the application of low and zero carbon technologies. A fabric first approach has been adopted, optimising the performance of the building envelope, with ambitious targets set to limit thermal losses and heat gains. Ongoing carbon assessments have been, and will continue to be, fundamental in steering our design proposals.


Architectural proposals have been crafted to provide an elegant yet completely rational laboratory building, with a civic frontage facing onto a future market square. Functional elements and configurations have been taken as virtues, emphasised in specific instances to intensify architectural expression. Whether optimising window proportions for daylighting and overheating, or articulating external escape stairs to enable adaptable floor plates, Plot C has been conceived as a modern factory of sorts, optimised to ensure a user-led design with maximum flexibility, efficiency and performance.

Nature is introduced to the development through a series of seating and planting areas positioned next to the main entrance and forming a focal point to the colonnade, increasing biodiversity, promoting wellbeing, and creating a picturesque setting. The colonnade also leads to the portico and provides a sheltered entrance route. A separate side entrance provides cycle racks and facilities for commuting cyclists. This important route will be densely planted – It is not only a convenient access route but a serene place to sit, walk and take a break from the office. A network of trees will be underplanted with woodland shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses highlighting the connectivity between routes and spaces.

Further information

Data

Location
Oxford
Project type
Workplace and learning
Status
Planning

Credits

Clients
Stanhope, Thomas White Oxford, Cadillac Fairview
Gort Scott Team
Jay Gort, Fiona Scott, Chris Neve, Barnaby Hughes, Benjamin Carter, Amy Wong
Consultants
Hoare Lea (MEO Engineer), Buro Happold (Lab Consultant), AKT|| (Structural Engineer), Gustafson Porter + Bowman (Landscape, Stantec (Environmental)

Awards

  • The Pineapples 2024: Future Place — Shortlisted

Downloads and links

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