This building is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom, precisely sited within the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Built for University of Cambridge’s Botanic Garden, an 11,000 sq m building of plant science research center which named The Sainsbury Laboratory was designed by Stanton Williams, architectural practice based at London. The design unifies complex scientific program requirements with the need for a piece of architecture that relating to the building structure responds to its surrounding landscape. Occupants within collaboration and testing areas may easily access the functional sector of the garden and herbarium in addition to the auditorium, meeting rooms, social spaces, upgraded ancillary areas for Botanic Garden staff and public cafe.
Natural light in the lowest levels are controlled by an immersion spaces underground, maintaining the low profile appearance of the building. Horizontal bands of limestone and concrete in the front to simulate geological accumulated to discuss a permanent symbol of the newly created institution. A walk continuously internally called the “way of thinking” provides a scenic route ideal for reflection and encourages simultaneously unexpected encounters with peers. Glazing on all sides allow a clear view of laboratory assets and garden improvement the contemplative nature of space.
The whole building is connected to its environment. There are two floors visible above ground and one underground level, partly to ensure the effectiveness of environmental control, but also to reduce the height of the building. The overall effect is strongly horizontal as a result. The strength is implied by the use of the bands of limestone and concrete exposed in-situ, recalling the geological strata and even the Darwinian idea of evolution over time and the times that one would expect a major research center. At the same time, however, permeability and connections – both real and visual – between the building and the garden were the focus of its design.
The identity of the building is set externally by the way it is expressed and experienced as a series of interconnected but distinct volumes of different heights grouped around three sides of a central courtyard, the fourth side of which is composed of trees planted by Henslow in the nineteenth century. Internal circulation and communal areas to focus on the central courtyard, the opening in it at ground level and on a raised terrace above, to provide immediate physical connections between the laboratory and its surroundings.
Associated with the building design in terms of its landscape setting is the way its internal zones are connected by a continuous route that recalls “thinking path” of Darwin, a way to reconcile the nature and thought through the activity of walking. It is designed to encourage meetings and interactions between scientists working in the building, and between them and the landscape.
With glazed face justice on one side and internal windows offering glimpses of the other laboratories, it functions as a transition zone between areas high lighted to work at the center of the building and the Botanical Garden it own. In this regard, the “way” reinterprets the tradition of Greece STOA, the monastic cloister, and the Collegiate Court, all of which were destined to some extent semi-outdoor spaces for contemplation and meetings. As a result, past, present and future are connected.