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Artist's view of the new Civil Engineering Building (Image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects)

Project Brief:


The initial purpose of this project was to create a world-class building in West Cambridge, to house the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC), the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing and the Department of Civil Engineering’s Geotechnical and Structures research activities.

The relocation of Civil Engineering activity to West Cambridge is an important first step in the Department’s 'Move West' strategy, and the building has been included in the 'Inset' Masterplan developed by Grimshaw Architects, and incorporated into the University’s Masterplan for the West Cambridge site.

Site address:   Clerk Maxwell Rd, CB3 0HE Cambridge
Size:   4000 sqm
Construction Cost:   £ 18M
Project Manager:   Brian Williams
Contractor:   SDC Builders Ltd
Architect:   Grimshaw Architects
Status:   Work started 25/09/2017
Work completed 10/05/2019
More information:   Project website
Environmental Performance:   Click here for information


Environmental Performance information

Fabric performance:  

Wall insulation 0.26 W/(m2K)
Roof insulation 0.16 W/(m2K)
Floor insulation 0.15 W/(m2K)
Windows: double glazed low emissivity
Air tightness test result: 4.17 m3/(hr.m2) @ 50Pa

Lifecycle cost:   Estimated cost of maintenance, facilities management and utilities over 60 years: £128/m2/yr (2016 prices)
Energy consumption:  

Electricity consumption prediction (inclusive of all heat demand): 185kWh/m2/yr +/- 50%
Gas consumption: no gas connection
Renewable electricity generation: 5,242kWh/yr from a 10.8kW photovoltaic array

Heating / cooling plant:  

No natural gas connection.  Heat derived entirely from ground sourced heat pumps (2 no. rated at 280kW cooling and 240kW heating).  Ground sensors installed to assist research into GSHP performance.


Offices are naturally ventilated with automated dampers and stack vent chimneys to facilitate night cooling of exposed concrete thermal mass.
Spaces requiring close control have localised mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
Adaptable building form allows spaces to be readily converted from natural ventilation to localised mechanical ventilation and vice versa.


Use of an energy/cost metric to optimise balance between embodied energy and operational energy impacts.  This drove selection of steel frame on raft foundation, pre-cast hollow core planks for intermediate floors and roof, and use of timber curtain walling mullions.
Designed for deconstruction e.g. connections between floor planks and steel beams can be easily un-bolted.
Building sensors within construction to assist research into making structures leaner in future.

Environmental certifications:  

BREEAM Interim Certification: Excellent (73.9%)
Energy Performance Certificate: A (20)

Other environmental sustainability measures:   Biodiverse planted roof over ‘blue roof’ can delay up to 120mm of water depth from reaching the ground in a storm event.  Sensors installed to assist research into role of planted roofs in rainwater attenuation.