Herzog & de Meuron unveil a landmark glass building with their new global research and development facility for AstraZeneca

Herzog & de Meuron unveil a landmark glass building with their new global research and development facility for AstraZeneca

1 Dec 2021 News

A new global research and development facility for AstraZeneca, The Discovery Centre (DISC) is located in Cambridge, UK, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the landmark glass building is positioned in a central campus location where it is intended to serve as a key point of exchange and collaboration with numerous members of the Cambridge Life Science community that includes the University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council, and Cancer Research UK.  

Hufton + Crow

Taking the form of a triangular glass disc with a dynamic saw-tooth roof, the building is accessible from three sides and roughly follows the shape of the site. The saw-tooth roof runs east to west, providing optimal natural light and creating a sense of drama as the roof evolves towards a tighter and larger zig-zag geometry.  

The main building volume is perched on six rectangular glass boxes grouped in three pairs. The result is an open courtyard formation, which references the historical colleges of central Cambridge and provides a central campus meeting point.

Hufton + Crow

Running vertically through all floors, the rectangular glass boxes house the building’s main programmatic elements, being the laboratories. Allowing groups to work side by side collaboratively, the glazed nature of the boxes ensure science is visible for both employees and visitors. 

Hufton + Crow

Each floor of the design is designed to be specific and different from the next. The basement level accommodates support facilities, a loading area and a mechanical zone while at street level the building becomes open and porous with amenities – conference centre, auditorium, café and restaurant - and science on display in the laboratories. The first floor of the disc volume is connected through an inner-ring area while the second floor is illuminated by the saw-tooth roof. 

Hufton + Crow

Throughout, a wide variety of different works environments is provided. Workspace options range from an open plan layout to quiet booths, to informal spaces for collaboration.  

Hufton + Crow

To foster a clear distinction between the building’s different programmatic elements, a diversity of materials is simply applied. Natural stone for instance is used at the entrances, rough sawn solid oak for main staircases and the inner-ring area, and carpet for the offices. Laboratories are finished with a continuous white resin and main partitions in the building are full height glass walls, affording transparency and a sense of connection between different areas. 

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