Cambridge research centre features green walls and roof as on-site laboratory

Green wall in the atrium. Nicholas Hare Architects © Alan Williams Photography

BuroHappold Engineering has scored a hat trick at the Cambridge Design and Construction Awards for the refurbishment of the David Attenborough Building (formerly the Arup Building) at the University of Cambridge, an iconic 1960s Brutalist design by Arup Associates.

Refurbishment of the building, carried out with Nicholas Hare Architects, won the Engineering and Sustainability Project of the Year, Best Conservation, Alteration or Extension, and Considerate Contractors awards.

Designed to house the Department of Zoology, including research facilities for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), the refurbishment put sustainability and energy reduction among its key considerations.

Green walls the full height of the atrium and a green roof with photovoltaic cells are used by the CCI as a laboratory to monitor different species colonising the building. Overall, energy efficiency measures have achieved a 40% reduction in operational carbon, £200K annual energy savings, and an 82% reduction in embodied carbon.

‘We wanted to create a low-energy, adaptable and efficient structure whilst preserving the integrity of the original Sir Philip Dowson design,’ said Andy Keelin, partner at BuroHappold Engineering. ‘We’re honoured that our innovative sustainability framework for the refurbishment of this magnificent structure, including biodiversity measures such as a green roof, rainwater harvesting and even a bee hotel, has been recognised with three awards.’

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