The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics is not just extragalactic – it’s sustainable

Durham University, in Durham, England, United Kingdom (U.K.), has a new facility for cosmology and astronomy. Known as the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, the 2,500sqm building with a sharp geometric design consists of stack timber volumes that intersect with each other with bold architecture meant to inspire creative thinking.

Designed by Studio Libeskind, the structure is filled with light and inviting, serving as both an office and events space for the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, and Institute of Computational Cosmology at the university.

Clad in larch, the façade gives the exterior a warm quality, and the broad pattern of wooden slats are held at an upward tilt, mimicking shooting stars taking flight in space. The long windows that flank the building offer all the offices inside natural light. Wedge-shaped balconies and a roof terrace give users a chance to relax and enjoy the Durham’s scenic view.

In the building, colours and textures are kept to a bare minimum, featuring exposed concrete ceilings and columns alongside warm woodwork and frosted glass doors and windows, lending the place an air of transparency.

“This project is an example of how to design a highly sustainable, dynamic building within tight programme requirements,” Daniel Libeskind explained. “Light and openness is at the core of the design; at every move in the design process, we incorporated simple, yet robust, materials and considered the users’ experience to create this important building for Durham University.”

Designed with integrated rainwater harvesting and capable of drawing from renewable energy from a ground-source heat pump and photovoltaic panels installed on its roof, the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics received the Building Research Established Environment Assessment Method’s (BREEAM) Excellent standard of sustainability.


Architect: Studio Libeskind
Year of Completion: 2017
Photo credit: Studio Libeskind, Hufton + Crow
Source: Architizer