Francis Crick Institute: Europe’s Most Innovative Biomedical Research Facility
Contract Magazine hails the ambitious design of the UK’s Francis Crick Institute as extraordinary in both scope and purpose.
Excerpted from Contract:
Vast in both size and ambition, the cathedral-like Francis Crick Institute is Europe’s single largest and most innovative biomedical research facility. Located in central London’s King’s Cross neighborhood, the institute was established by six leading medical research and educational organizations. Here, researchers from across the institutions work together in interdisciplinary teams with no departments, no tenure, and a broad openness to shared knowledge and research.
The institute’s imposing form is divided by two intersecting atria that create sightlines between all floors. A large white rounded structure forms the building’s auditorium at the base of the atrium. “We have these organic forms that function like organs within a skeletal structure,” says Andy Warner Lacey, director of interior design for HOK’s London office. “It’s an anthropomorphic approach to design.”
Designed to encourage connection, ad hoc conversation, and interaction among the more than 1,500 multidisciplinary staff, the building was conceived around the tenets of transparency and flexibility. “‘Discovery without boundaries’ is our tagline,” says Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Crick Institute, “so we did not want any physical barriers between our 120 labs. It’s all about open-plan, collaborative working and direct sightlines in an environment that I hope will encourage a sort of gentle anarchy.”
Each lab neighborhood has a linear glass-walled layout that allows staff in the atrium to see through to the other side of the building. In between, a shared secondary lab is sandwiched by two write-up spaces and primary labs on either side. “There is a feeling of openness,’ says HOK Senior Vice President David King, who was the project director. “You can see through from one side of the building to the other. Daylight penetrates deep into the plan.”