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Zeus groundbreaking heralds new phase of development at Harwell Campus

The Zeus building will provide R&D, office and laboratory space for organisations looking for 3,000 to 60,000 square feet.

Leading Oxfordshire dignitaries, including David Johnston, OBE, MP for Wantage, and Vale of the White Horse Councillor Bethia Thomas, Cabinet Member for Development and Regeneration, attended a groundbreaking ceremony today to mark the start of construction of the new Zeus building at Harwell Campus.

With a footprint of 32,000 square feet and offering units from 3,000 to 60,000 square feet over two levels, Zeus is the first in a new collection of multi-occupier hybrid buildings that will extend Harwell’s unique offer, providing flexible hybrid space for R&D, office and laboratory use.

Architectural competition 

Having won the project through an Architect competition, Allies and Morrison has worked closely with the Harwell Campus Management Team to create a well-designed and efficient building that will sit both elegantly and sensitively in its natural environment in rural Oxfordshire. Providing high-quality yet functional space, the design is divided into two rectilinear structures, thoughtfully designed to retain the cluster of trees on the plot and connected at roof level. The building envelope is constructed of weathered steel panels and timber, which were selected because they will season with time and weather, continuously enhancing the connection between Zeus and the landscape it sits within.

High levels of demand

Named after one of the 14 experimental nuclear reactors (now decommissioned), built and located at Harwell in the 1950/1960s, Zeus is a speculative development for science, technology and engineering organisations.  With the requirement for this type of hybrid space in the UK increasing Zeus has seen high levels of demand.

“Zeus is a statement building for Harwell – we’ve invested in the design, unusually putting it out for an Architectural competition, to ensure we continue to deliver an innovative and exciting environment at Harwell.” said William Cooper, Harwell Campus Partnership Ltd Director. “We know demand is there and we want to continue to evolve our product offering to meet market demand for flexible alternative space.”

Year on year growth is set to continue at Harwell with four further schemes in detailed design to be announced shortly.  With a total of 5.5 million square feet of planned development and with 1.5 million square feet of that to be developed by 2025, the Campus is one of the largest rejuvenation and commercial property growth projects in the UK.

“Harwell is an example of the far-reaching benefits successful public/private sector partnerships can bring, not just to investors and developers, but to the communities that use our buildings.“ said Tom Edgerley, Development Director at U+I, a partner in the joint venture at Harwell Campus.

World leading science and technology

Newly appointed MP for Wantage, David Johnston OBE, commented, “I feel privileged to be the MP that has Harwell in my constituency and will do all I can to help the community continue to produce world-leading science and technology for UK plc and also to inspire future generations.”

Concluding at the ceremony today, Angus Horner, Partner and Director, Harwell Campus commented, “This Campus has been leading innovation for 75 years, it was the location for the world’s first transistorised computer and was where Mary Lyon discovered X-inactivation. The organisations who will occupy Zeus could well be making the scientific discoveries and technology breakthroughs that will shape our future and that is an incredibly exciting prospect.”

Zeus will complete in September 2020, with Barnwood Construction appointed as the main contractor.

For more information please see the Zeus brochure.

Image 1. David Jobbins Bidwells, Ben Ramsay MD Barnwood, Bethia Thomas Cabinet Member VoWH, Angus Horner Harwell Campus, William Cooper Harwell Campus, Mark Affonso STFC-UKRI, David Johnston OBE MP for Wantage, Liz Kirby STFC-UKRI (l-r)

Image 2.  CGI Zeus building – south elevation through the landscape