The Challenge:

Taking an already iconic Arup designed 1960s building in the heart of one of the country’s most renowned university campuses, and breathing new life into a showcase for over four million specimens and an 80ft finback whale skeleton. All in a high footfall city centre location.

In building terms, this refurbishment needed to improve internal and external circulation, add a new atrium space, provide prominent new entrances to key parts of the building and new external access paths and staircases for more fluid and intuitive navigation around the building.

The Solution:

It starts with lots of discussion, consultation and listening, not only with the core client, but also with the wider stakeholder groups from nine conservation organisations and six university departments, all co-locating together in one building. It involved a very agile phased programme of works to support the live site, minimising disruption and being sensitive to exam periods.

Due to the heritage of the building and with a lack of current drawings, the site team worked on a responsive basis to problem solve as elements of the inner structure revealed key challenges. To improve the energy efficiency of the building a thermal imaging solution was used to retro-fit efficiency measures designed on a use-based pattern of energy consumption.

The Impact:

One of the worst energy performing buildings on campus has been transformed into a top-rated facility, radically reducing carbon footprint and running costs. It also boasts new sustainability features, like a full height internal green wall, which Sir David Attenborough test abseiled down on the day of opening the new building. While other famous exhibits now have a pride of place space, including the stunning new atrium housing the department of zoology’s 80ft Finback Whale, designed to give the wow factor from key entrance and vantage points.

#KierClients Testimonial - David Attenborough Building, Cambridge
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" I found it particularly pleasing how interested Kier was in how we were going to use the building, why we were going to use it in certain ways…it was very much about them listening and learning and letting us comment and feed in our thoughts. "
Dr Mike Rands Executive Director Cambridge Conservation Initative (CCI)

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