October 22, 2021

Interserve starts work on Daniel Libeskind-designed research centre at Durham University

Work on site by Interserve, the international support services and construction group, is underway on a new £11.5m research centre for the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at Durham University. The new building has been designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect behind the redevelopment of New York’s World Trade Center.

Due for completion in late 2016, the three-storey structure will provide over 2,400 square metres of floor space, providing 80 new offices for professors, lecturers, doctoral and postdoctoral students, support staff and visiting academics.

The Ogden Centre houses research aimed at understanding the fundamental properties of the universe. This is the latest in a line of facilities being built by Interserve, including Factory 2050 (the world’s first totally reconfigurable factory) the UK’s first proton beam therapy unit at The Christie, in Manchester, and Diamond Light Source (the UK’s national synchrotron science facility).

Mark Gardham, Construction Manager for Interserve, said: “The building’s unusual geometry, bespoke features and sustainable performance requirements, all set within a tight site on a live university campus, present a complex technical and logistical challenge for the team. By working collaboratively with the client and their professional team, the designers and our supply chain, we are working to overcome these challenges and create another cutting-edge building for the UK’s scientific community.”

The new building will also include interaction space, a research outreach area, meeting rooms and a computer room. Interserve has been tasked with achieving ratings of BREEAM Excellent and EPC ‘A’ on completion of the construction process.

Part of the complexity in achieving these results lies in accommodating the unusual geometry of the building envelope, which will make air tightness and required insulation levels challenging to accomplish. Solar panels, rainwater recycling and ground source heat pumps, together with highly efficient LED lighting, will all play their part in helping to ensure superior environmental credentials for the finished project.

Interserve is aiming to spend 80 per cent of the contract value with contractors within a 50 mile radius of the site. More than 100 people will be employed on the project, including five apprentices.

During the build Interserve will engage fully with the local community, including schools, technical colleges and the university through open days and presentations to keep everyone updated on the project.

Durham University has received two major donations of nearly £5m towards the new centre, which will be next to the existing Physics department, on Lower Mountjoy, Durham.