Make, in collaboration with Nightingale Associates, has completed its second commission for the University of Oxford in, the £32m Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute (OMPI).

The layout and design of the new 7,000m² state-of-the-art laboratory has been created to improve and encourage communication between research groups in order to continue the legacy of the adjoining Dunn School, which pioneered the discovery of Penicillin and antibiotics in the 1930s.

William James, Professor of Virology at Oxford University's Dunn School said: "The Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute provides an inspiring working environment that enables many previously disparate groups to work in flexible, collaborative groupings in state-of-the-art facilities. It achieves this within a relatively limited budget and with a very high degree of space efficiency, as a result of a great deal of careful and imaginative design effort. As a piece of the built environment, it sits extremely comfortably with its neighbours, quietly and politely making its presence felt; a genuinely contemporary building that will stand the test of time."

The facilitation of collaborative working was a key theme which has permeated the design. Replacing an existing building that was no longer fit for purpose, the vision was to simplify circulation through and around the site and encourage interaction and communication between research groups, both within the OMPI building itself and across the cluster of buildings.

Justin Nicholls, project architect and partner at Make, said: "We are really pleased with the finished building. We felt it was important for our contemporary building to work in harmony with the Dunn School, both visually and in terms of layout and navigation. OMPI works as a respectful supporting act to the William and Mary-style Dunn School and ensures that the buildings - and the researchers within them - all work together."

The materials and scale of the facade have been designed to respond sensitively to its historic neighbour, with strong cornice and plinth lines and horizontal terracotta louvres inspired by the DNA pattern, which echo the brick palette of the Dunn School and provide shading to the southern elevation. Internally the scheme has been designed in close collaboration with the client, with open plan primary laboratories designed to facilitate interaction and communication between research groups. The modern laboratory spaces have combined the research and write-up benches - again to prioritise communication and minimise interruptions.

Adrian Gainer, Director Nightingale Associates said: "The ideal approach to designing a modern laboratory building is to design from the bench up: from inside to outside. This approach was adopted on the OMPI project with great success. The result is an impressive integrated design solution that works from bench to façade, providing both an inspirational and a functional environment for modern research." Combining the laboratories' needs with those of the new data centre for the University's computer services located in the building's basement has been a key factor in minimising carbon emissions. A high cooling base load created an opportunity to use the heat generated by the data centre to provide power for the laboratory spaces using CCHP technology, thus meeting the 20 per cent energy reduction requirement. The overall building has achieved a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating.

Make and Nightingale Associates collaborated previously on the Old Road Campus for the University of Oxford. The award-winning scheme was completed in 2007 and is an exemplar of modern laboratory design, bringing together several different disciplines of cancer research and enabling greater interaction and collaboration.

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