Imperial College is developing a new campus in west London - a new urban quarter integrating academic uses with office, residential and retail. Key to this campus is the establishment of the Translation & Innovation Hub, where Imperial College London and Imperial College ThinkSpace creates an entrepreneurial environment that enables the translation of research outcomes into internationally significant technologies. PLP Architecture was appointed to conceive a building to house this ecosystem of scientific researchers, start-ups, and small enterprises.
Scientific innovation has always relied on spaces that encourage human interaction and the exchange of ideas. However, the astonishing pace of change in current research and development requires spaces that are also infinitely flexible and respond to demands as yet unknown. To act as an incubator, the building must offer a mixture of open plan, modular laboratory workspaces and office suites. How can these spaces be both flexible yet specific enough to encourage interaction and exchange?
Imperial College London / Voreda
12 Storey Technology Transfer Space and Commercial Office Accommodation
Professor David Gann CBE Vice-President
(Development & Innovation)
Our proposal consists of two wings linked together by an atrium. The spaces in each wing form reconfigurable research and co-working environments designed to meet the needs of companies as they grow. The start-up incubator spaces are positioned on the first few levels where the proximity to the central atrium space and to the ground floor café encourages collaboration and spontaneous meetings. Above, larger, more flexible plans allow for multiple configurations of office and research areas to suit the changing needs of different tenants.
The wings are oriented to promote visibility and natural lighting while minimising impact on the adjoining conservation area. The taller structure creates an architectural buffer between the arterial route and the centre of the campus. The lower wing is angled to open the atrium towards the central campus green. Larger scale solar shades protect the southern elevation along the highway, while the finely-grained terracotta elevations to the west address the scale and colour of the residential neighbours.
Linking everything together, the atrium is conceived as a catalyst for exchange, allowing visual links and meeting spaces for researchers and binding together the diverse set of occupiers.