Blizard Building

by | 18. Jul 2012

Educational | Project

Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

With the Blizard Building, the design team aimed at creating an outstanding new building for the College, as well as a significant landmark and educational resource for the local community.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

The design team developed the building’s form around two primary concepts. Firstly, to foster better integration of the science disciplines through the provision of an open-plan environment; and secondly, to create a building which broadcasts its purpose, achieved by the development of a seductively transparent building envelope.

400 scientists will, for the first time in the UK, work side by side in an open-plan work environment on a vast single research floor conducive to improved communication and the cross fertilisation of ideas.

Supporting amenities are located in a series of pods suspended above the open-plan laboratory floor.

Our aim has been to create a space that avoids the traditionally sanitised environment of laboratory research buildings – here the very fabric of the building speaks about science and is conducive to better science by bringing researchers together.
/Will Alsop

Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Two structures are linked by a multi-colored glass bridge at first floor level. The larger structure is a three story glass pavilion, designed to reveal and communicate the function of the activities inside,

The design team worked with artists, designing the majority of the building envelope as a backdrop for light and art, to create links between science and art within the fabric of the building.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

Large glass panels, by artist Bruce Mclean, depict images inspired by molecular science.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Directly opposite the glass pavilion is a six story thin rectangular structure, the Wall of Plant, housing all the sophisticated mechanical and electrical services required for the research facilities.

A special profiled zinc cladding system is capable of reflecting moving images and artwork projected from the roof of the pavilion opposite.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

At ground level the building’s cladding changes to a transparent and finely detailed curtain wall system creating a strong visual link with the building’s colourful interior.

Visitors arrive at the main entrance in the Wall of Plant, cross the link bridge, and enter into the interior of the glass pavilion where the pods are suspended above the open laboratory floor.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

The four pods, all nicknamed by the design team according to their shape as the project progressed, provide an innovative and animated means of accommodating key requirements.

The Centre of the Cell, a giant orange molecule, is the largest of the pods, providing an area of 195 square meters on two levels.

It will be equipped as an interactive learning facility for the public. The visitor will be allowed closely controlled views down into the primary lab space before entering the almost completely hermetically sealed volume of the pod.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

The structure,based on a family of repeated components, that together form a variation on a geodesic structure, is clad in curved composite GRP cladding panels with a metallic orange gel-coat finish.

The open-topped Mushroom pod, linked directly to the bridge, acts as the meeting and greeting pod on arrival in the pavilion.

The height of the surrounding solid balustrade varies to provide differing levels of enclosure and privacy. In the centre of the pod sits a helical staircase that provides direct access down to the lab below.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

This pod also accommodates a small seminar area that can be separated from the circulation route by low screens.

Located at the southern end of the pavilion the pods Cloud and Spikey provide the adaptable meeting rooms for small and medium sized seminar groups of up to 30 people.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

Cloud consists of a series of connected elliptical steel hoops which form an ellipsoid form. The structure is externally clad with a white tensile fabric. The interior is lined with a series of geodesic oak-veneered panels. The Cloud pod is acoustically sealed for privacy but is equipped with vision panels to allow controlled daylight in and views out.

With an exactly similar volume to first meeting pod, The Spikey pod, a combination push-out and cable structure, is enclosed with a fire-retardant tensile fabric. The enclosure, installed by one of the world’s leading tensile structure specialists, is the most complex geometrical tensile form ever completed.

The internal wall lining is fixed to the separate structural wall assembly and finished with a carpet wall covering.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


In addition to the pioneering open plan design, the extraordinary pods, the innovative use of artwork and the distinctive lighting, the new Medical School Building breaks the mould in its use of colour.


Photo courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.

Pinks and purples feature in the bridge link glazing, bold orange walls enliven the main entrance, a rich red carpet runs throughout the glass pavilion, and a deep green, pervades the interior of the Lecture Theater.

This is an inspirational building, its transparency and openness – rare in laboratory buildings – encourages interaction both amongst staff and with the community.
/Peter Trebilcock/AMEC

Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


Drawing courtesy Alsop Design Ltd.


The building is named after Sir William Blizard, a distinguished surgeon at The London Hospital and one of the College’s founders.

The Blizard building won the prestigious LEAF Award at the Leading European Architects Forum (LEAF), held this year in Barcelona, in the “Best use of technology within a large scheme” category.


CITY London
COUNTRY United Kingdom