Inmos Microprocessor Factory

Inmos Microprocessor Factory

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners as Architects

While Fleetguard had been designed with the needs of a sensitive site in mind, the INMOS scheme was seen as a model factory, suitable for construction in a wide variety of locations. The technical brief was demanding. Highly controlled conditions were required for the production of electronic microchips, with more conventionally serviced space housing offices, staff canteen and other facilities under the same roof. The building had to be designed for fast construction (ready for operation within one year of starting on site) – which implied a high degree of off-site fabrication – and great flexibility. The context of the commission was a government-backed drive to expand the British microchip industry: the need was for specialised production space, to be available at the earliest possible opportunity. RRP responded by producing a scheme which not only met the brief fully but was architecturally striking. The resulting building has great external presence and a strong sense of identity inside for those who work there. The scheme is divided into ’clean’ areas (that is, for microchip production) and ‘dirty’ (normally serviced ancillary) areas along a central promenade (or ‘street’) of more than 100 metres. Surmounted by banks of serving machinery above the spine and buttressed by the main roof masts, the building has a strong vertical emphasis. Logical, efficient, flexible and durable, and in its expressive use of services as sculpture, INMOS has something of the poetic quality of Pompidou and Lloyd’s .

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