Make Architects has won planning for the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute (BPI). The architects designed the building to complement the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and the NDM Research building, also designed by the practice, that sit alongside on the Old Road Campus.
The main façade features a veil of horizontal aluminum bands, ensuring the building reads as a sibling to the adjacent NDM. The BPI also uses the underlying design principles as the other two buildings, namely a masonry plinth; four-storeys of accommodation; a single-storey main entrance and a receded rooftop plant.
A new external public space leading up to the entrance aims to enhance the outside space around the NDM and Kennedy Institute. The blend of hard and soft landscaping will provide a balance of both formal and informal public spaces for people to meet and socialise, according to Make.
The BPI’s north elevation is more open than those on the south and west in order to take advantage of solar gain. The building is naturally ventilated thanks to a labyrinth located beneath the lower-ground floor that draws in air through the light well, which is cooled by the building’s thermal mass.
A top-lit covered atrium, which will primarily be as reading room, allows natural light deep into the building and creates visual and physical connections to the seminar rooms, data storage facilities and server area. The interior is predominantly open plan with cellular offices and a range of breakout spaces.
“Internally the innovative open plan spaces, lecture theatres and large expressed high-powered computing hall are gathered around a grand reading space forming the ultimate heart of the building,” said Justin Nicholls, Make partner and lead project architect.
The BDI will accommodate 552 staff and is part of the wider decade-long capital masterplan which the university began implementing this year.