Cavendish III will be the home of the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge. The department has a long and distinguished history including 29 Nobel Laureates. The building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching.
The Cavendish Laboratory has been home to the Department of Physics since 1874 when it was founded in the centre of Cambridge. In the 1970’s it moved to the West Cambridge site and in 2020 will move into a new purpose-built building named Cavendish III.
The department is one of the most prominent Physics research institutions in the world and is renowned for fundamental discoveries such as the discovery of the electron and the structure of DNA. Its research is varied and covers the whole range of Physics-related disciplines.
The new building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching. To enable this, the highly demanding technical requirements of the laboratories need to be established and then designed.
Ramboll has been involved with the department since 2014, working with them to define the technical brief for the building. We were then awarded the Civil, Structural and Vibration Engineering design commission for the project. We are also responsible for the acoustic and fire engineering design through the architects Jestico + Whiles.
Achieving a highly stable environment for investigations at the atomic levels poses numerous technical challenges. Specifically the level of vibration control has demanded special consideration. Ramboll has carried out specialist surveys and investigations of the existing buildings as well as the proposed site. These have informed the technical criteria required within the building and the approach to be taken to achieve such low levels of vibration.
As part of the early design process, precedent projects were studied and visited. Ramboll’s experience in delivering projects such as the National Graphene Institute and the University of Cambridge Materials Science and Metallurgy Building in the UK, as well as the Niels Bohr Building in Copenhagen has been important in developing a robust design strategy, building on previous proven concepts.
The similarities in size and technical requirements of the Niels Bohr Building and Cavendish III were drawn upon by the team; a number of knowledge-sharing events were organised between the teams. Specifically the Cavendish III project team and scientists visited the Niels Bohr Building to understand the design and strategies developed and benefit from lessons learned.
The Cavendish III project is currently in the design phase and is aiming to complete in 2022.