BVN’s resolution of this complex set of demands, was to create a strikingly different form for each of the two functional space requirements – an X-shaped building for workplaces and a box form for the research laboratories.
The laboratory building is clad in Equitone fibre cement panels in a red oxide colour, and includes a 3-storey high glazed section that makes research activities visible to passers-by.
“It’s quite deliberate that the workspace form is different to the research space,” says Ashton. “The X-shape allows almost 360° views over the Black Mountain region, along with maximum penetration of daylight into the interior. The geometry creates a series of neighbourhoods or clusters within the internal open planning.”
The X-shape also provided the opportunity to create a connection that gave a high degree of transparency between the two functional spaces. This was achieved by placing an atrium between the legs of the X close to the research space, and then glazing the internal walls of the laboratories.
Stairs and ramps winding through the atrium provide the main circulation pathway through the four workplace floors, while also providing opportunities for bump meetings.
“At the centre of the X is where the kitchenette and amenities for each floor were placed, while there are meeting rooms and communal spaces positioned on the other side of the X,” says Ashton.
But while transparency and visibility between the two functional spaces were requirements, there also had to be a high degree of isolation between them to meet the government’s Physical Containment 2 (PC2) certification standards.