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Academic project: Designing for science: Building and user adaptation in the Cavendish II Laboratory | Status: Completed | Date: April 2016

Person: Charlotte Airey | Subject: Architecture Tripos, final year | Supervisor: Dr Minna Sunikka-Blank

Project summary: This study investigated the advantages and disadvantages of design requirements in the Cavendish II in relation to adaptability and user requirements, and the longevity of the building.

Key findings: The drivers for change over the lifetime of the Cavendish II were related to pressures from growth in staff numbers, organisational changes of research groups, and increasingly highly-controlled, high-precision experimental environments and contemporary requirements to collaborate with industry.

The modular steel frame structure of the building was crucial in allowing for maximum flexibility. Although the facilities are considered overcrowded today, these pressures have been alleviated by allowing plant equipment to overflow outdoors and into circulation spaces, and densifying occupation into stairwells and within the plan.

Read the full summary here.

Recommendations: A long-term management strategy for building adaptation might help prevent deterioration of group cohesion and maintain convenient proximity between working areas, as well as preventing the degeneration of quality of the physical environment.

A design for the Cavendish III which envisages heavy alteration and interference on the part of researchers and staff will help maintain the culture of innovation, though care must be taken to prevent user interference with spaces designated for activities other than experimental work.

How has it been used? The recommendation made to create more distinct zoning of areas for more and less changeable areas, to allow for a building which both allows for science practice to evolve and also maintains beautiful and pleasant working and teaching environments. BDP (the architects for the Cavendish III) has already suggested this approach in their Stage I Briefing Report for Cavendish III. The report has been sent to the design team and user group for Cavendish III to take into account in their plans for Cavendish III.