The Beecroft Building

Designed by: Hawkins\Brown
For client: The University of Oxford Floor area: 7900.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Learning Space of the Year

The Beecroft Building 7
© Jack Hobhouse

Collaboration platforms function as stages enticing fellow researchers to join into discussions. The project team worked closely together to ensure the delivery of a high quality building within strict cost parameters despite its extremely onerous technic

About the Project

The Beecroft Building provides world-class research facilities, consolidating experimental and theoretical physicists into a single centre of excellence. Sited in a highly sensitive and constrained site in central Oxford, the building is a landmark within the wider university context. Completing the existing physics complex within the Science Area, the new building sits on a very high-profile site at the entrance to the University Parks, opposite Sir William Butterfield’s grade I listed Keble College Chapel. The building unites researchers and fosters collaborative working in a visually connected yet acoustically controlled environment. Offices and collaboration spaces are organised above ground around a five-storey atrium. Below, a 16-metre-deep complex of high-specification laboratories can maintain temperature to within a tenth of a degree, and reduce vibration to the width of a few atoms, enabling previously impossible experiments.

What’s unique about it

The building has been designed to foster collaborative working in a visually connected yet acoustically controlled environment. The design transforms the way the department works, encouraging two disciplines to share an environment for work more akin to a modern workplace than an institutional research facility. Offices and collaboration spaces are organised within a five-storey atrium connected by a meandering staircase that encourages social interactions. Breakout spaces are arranged at half levels within the atrium, with informal seating clusters arranged around large double height blackboards. These provide opportunities for small scale group discussions and serendipitous meetings.

Much of the work carried out in the building is cutting edge research and requires a quiet and environmentally controlled working environment for researchers to run highly controlled experiments and then write up papers. The research findings need to be discussed and tested with piers so the layout of the cellular offices around the central atrium encourages staff to come out of their offices and discuss their findings with a wider audience. The layout allows for key views out of the building over the park from the larger meeting spaces. A glazed roof above the central atrium space draws natural light into the building’s collaborative core where meeting platforms are staggered so that each benefit from daylight and views of the sky above.

© Hawkins\Brown


Upper Floor Plan
© Hawkins\Brown

Upper floor plan

Basement Floor Plan
© Hawkins\Brown

Basement floor plan

Section Cwigwam Visual
© Hawkins\Brown

Sectional CGI. Above ground are theoretical physics office spaces and a collaborative atrium. Ground floor contains public spaces and a shared reception area. Below ground houses experimental physics laboratories and interstitial service floors.

The Beecroft Building 10
© Jack Hobhouse

The building is designed to facilitate extremely sensitive experiments that will advance research into areas such as quantum science and technology, and the fundamental laws of nature. New buildings in central Oxford are restricted to 18m in height by the

1149 N59834 Jack Hobhouse
© Jack Hobhouse

Quiet office spaces.

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© Jack Hobhouse

Sited in a highly sensitive and prominent location the building is a landmark within the wider university context. The form and facade were carefully designed in response to surrounding buildings. It is clad in a combination of bronze, glass and expanded

The Beecroft Building 4
© Jack Hobhouse

Balancing acoustics and visual connections throughout the collaborative atrium and ‘thinking spaces’ for theoretical physicists was key in providing an inspiring and productive environment which facilitates a range of activities from group discussions to

The Beecroft Building 3
© Jack Hobhouse

A social stair within the foyer can be used for social breakout and events whilst drawing occupants into the atrium above.

World-leading physics research facilities in the heart of the University of Oxford's science area.

Location of project:

Laing O’Rourke

Turner & Townsend

Hoare Lea

Peter Brett Associates

Scott White & Hookins

BD Landscape

WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

299 Lighting

Birmingham Veneers

CG Reynolds

Axiom Group

Commercial Group

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