Sainsburys Laboratory, Cambridge

Project team

Architect:Stanton Williams

Structural Engineer:AKT II

Main Contractor:Kier Regional

Photos:Stanton Williams ©

Date of completion:2011


Awards: RIBA Stirling Prize Winner

The Sainsbury Laboratory is a research centre set in the grounds of Cambridge University’s botanical garden. Funded by the Gatsby Foundation, it was designed to bring together world class scientists and won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2012.

The architect, Stanton Williams, created a vision for the building of solidity and strength combined with space and light to meet the client’s brief of producing a world class building. There are two storeys visible above ground and a further subterranean level, partly in order to ensure efficient environmental control, but also to reduce the height of the building.

The building is of beautifully wrought in-situ concrete combined with striated panels and fins of Metz limestone. Decorative concrete was tinted with a white pigment for the wall facings. The extensive amounts of fair-faced concrete achieved a consistency of colour and quality. In total 4800m3 structural concrete and 3500m3 of waterproof concrete was used alongside the 2100m3 of decorative concrete.

Albert Williams-Taylor from AKT II says “From a sustainability point of view, what is more sustainable then actually creating something like this. A concrete form with no finish, this is it, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, aesthetically, environmentally and also structurally”.

The building has achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Photos: © Stanton Williams