The Sir Michael Uren Hub at Imperial College London opens its doors officially this week. Designed by Allies and Morrison, it brings together research labs, offices and social spaces for over 500 engineers, clinicians and scientists involved in the development of medical technologies to improve the treatment and diagnosis of diverse medical conditions, from finding ways to cure dementia to creating bionic limbs.
Project Name: Sir Michael Uren Hub
Studio Name: Allies and Morrison
As one of the UK’s foremost innovators in cement manufacturing, Sir Michael’s legacy can be seen in the very fabric of the building. He developed ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS), a by-product from making steel, as a replacement of carbon-intensive cement in concrete production. Our design for the north and south facades connects the work of the benefactor, the aspiration to reduce emission and our desire for a white appearance by pioneering the use of GGBS in architectural concrete.
It replaced 50% of cement and reduced the carbon footprint of the facade. These facades are animated by distinctive fields of 1,300 fins, each four metres tall, cast and installed in seven different permutations. Their seemingly randomised arrangement provides shading and privacy and yields a rhythmic pattern that evokes the biomedical research in the building: the coming together of the artificial and the organic, of engineering and medicine.
Occupiers come from this breadth of disciplines to co-locate, each with very specific needs: musculoskeletal medical engineering, joint replacement, cardiovascular science, dementia, air quality and public health. To accommodate such diversity required highly flexible and efficient architecture and infrastructure, which houses nine research groups in eleven different fit out layouts. Materials are functional yet beautiful, their palette carefully restrained to provide a backdrop to the science. Tall ceilings and windows create pleasant environments in which to work and exchange ideas.
The building is set within the rapidly changing environment of Imperial’s new White City campus. Its future neighbour to the northwest will be a purpose-built home for the School of Public Health, also designed by Allies and Morrison.
Part clinic, part lab, part classroom, part office, the Uren Building is a new typology of urban scientific building – a hybrid one, able to nurture multiple strands of scientific discovery all under one roof for societal benefit.
Part clinic, part lab, part classroom, part office – a new typology of urban scientific building.
ABOUT ALLIES AND MORRISON
Allies and Morrison is a practice of architects and urbanists based in London and Cambridge. We design beautiful buildings that have long life and can adapt over the generations. We also shape enduring places whether new pieces of city or settlements at any scale. All our projects are concerned with the crafting of every detail and the appreciation for the uniqueness of each context.
ABOUT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
Imperial College London is a world top ten university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines. Located in the heart of London, Imperial is a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges.