The Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute

Architect
PLP Architecture

HOK
Location
London, UK | View Map
Project Year
2015
Category
Laboratories

Research Facilities
Stories By
PLP Architecture

Skyfold Inc.
Nick Guttridge
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
ManufacturersSkyfold Inc.
ManufacturersInterface
ManufacturersSika
ManufacturersSAS International
ManufacturersAltro
ManufacturersScheldebouw bv

Product Spec Sheet
Manufacturers
Manufacturers
by Sika
Manufacturers
Manufacturers
by Altro
Manufacturers

The Francis Crick Institute

PLP Architecture as Architects

The Francis Crick Institute is an extraordinary example of collaborative work in science today. A consortium of six of the UK's largest organisations for biomedical research, the Institute brings together multidisciplinary groups of researchers including biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians to develop ground-breaking research for the improvement of human health. To house this centre, we devised a building that operates both as a complex laboratory as well as a place for collaboration and exchange.

 

The location for the new Francis Crick Institute is highly significant: rather than being banished to the outskirts of the city, the building faces St Pancras International Station - one of the main points of arrival into the UK and sits next to the British Library - one the world’s most revered institutions.

 

PLP was selected in 2010 to collaborate with HOK in shaping the building’s distinctive form and striking architectural expression. Our approach was to lift the laboratory building as an architectural typology to the status of a major civic institution, equal in standing to the two adjacent landmarks. Whilst conventional laboratories are generally inward looking and defensive, we conceived the building as a deliberately transparent and public place. We extended the street inside, organized key functions around it and maximised the potential for interaction between it and the inner life of the building. The resulting configuration acknowledges that research is as much about interaction and social life as it is about lab work.

 

Working together with HOK, we have designed the building to be highly interactive and open, with five floors of laboratories above ground specifically designed to promote interdisciplinary work. Four quadrants of neutrally designed laboratory space are structured around a transverse atrium that transmits light and creates interior views. Between the atrium and the labs, a sequence of interlocked double height rooms provides a variety of spaces for gathering.

 

The building’s offices are lifted above street level so that the public realm can flow into the ground floor. Facing the new square, a public lecture theatre, exhibition space, café, and teaching laboratory enable the scientists to interact with the community through an extensive outreach programme.

 

Above, two curved roofs enclosing the substantial technical plant are shaped to resonate with the nearby Barlow shed of the St. Pancras International train station and respond to the varying scales of neighbouring buildings. The rhythmic façade of the terracotta masonry base establishes a relation of scale and materiality with the surrounding buildings from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

As a centre for excellence for biomedical research, the Crick will keep the UK at the forefront of innovation in discovery research, attracting world-class talent and high-value investment to London and the UK.

The Francis Crick Institute

Skyfold Inc. as Manufacturers

The Francis Crick Institute in London is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Here are some interesting statistics: it will house 1,500 research staff when fully occupied, 12,560M2 (over 135,00 SF) dedicated to laboratory space, and 1,700M2 (over 18,000 SF) of rooftop solar panels.

The architect, HOK, was challenged with dividing the main auditorium. As a tiered space, Skyfold was the only viable solution. Due to the sheer size of the room (18.23m x 5.097m or 60.77’ x approx. 17’) and slope of the stairs, 3 Skyfold walls were used to create a single wall for the client.

This was accomplished with incredible attention to detail - the lines of the veneer matching perfectly, not only across the long-stepped wall but the surrounding fixed walls as well.

With phenomenal 49dB (equivalent 50 NIC) acoustics attained on site, this was a truly market-leading installation, allowing the auditorium to be divided or opened up with ease and speed (less than 3 minutes), and events take place either side in completely privacy.

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