Check out this world-famous Cambridge laboratory’s imposing new home

Cambridge’s world-famous Cavendish Laboratory is set to get a massive new home after plans for a huge new complex were given the go-ahead today (February 7).

The laboratory, home to the University of Cambridge’s physics department, is known across the world and, to date, has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners.

It is famed as the institute where Jim Watson, Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin made their breakthrough in understanding DNA.

Researchers there also had a hand in the creation of the atomic bomb.

Rosalind Franklin

The laboratory moved out to west Cambridge in the 1970s – and now its staff are getting itchy feet again.

Today, Cambridge City Council’s planning committee approved plans for a brand new 37,000 square metre facility in JJ Thomson Avenue, incorporating laboratories with lecture theatres and public spaces.

Prof Richard Philips, deputy head of the department of physics, said the new building was an important step for the Cavendish Laboratory as the current premises were showing their age.

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“The Cavendish name is known worldwide,” said Prof Phillips.

“Its spin-off companies have made a lot of money for the area.

"The old buildings were poorly and cheaply made. In contrast, the new plans are much better.

"The department has set very high expectations for the design of the building and we have a design that brings architectural distinction and gravitas to the site.

Planners' vision for the new building

“Very detailed consideration has been given to being able to provide an environment for advanced research and our every-day work.”

As part of the plans, provision has been made for segregated cycle routes around the building.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha said she had no problems with the building design itself, but voiced concerns about the travel plans.

Lecture facilities in the new Cavendish lab

Cllr Nethsingha said: “I think the mitigation in this proposal for improvements to Grange Road are very welcome and very needed.

"But the intensification of cycle movements in the area have been noticeable.

"I live in the area, and notice it has been getting more intense since Eddington [the new town quarter in the north-west] opened.

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“Cyclists come down and hit a complete cycle nightmare at the bottom of Madingley Road.

"It is just appalling. I have concerns about us constantly granting permission for individual buildings without considering the wider context.

"That’s my main problem.”

Committee chairman, Cllr John Hipkin also wondered whether the committee would be “compounding a situation” on the road by allowing the proposal to go ahead.

In the end, there was broad support for the scheme, with councillors voting to allow the new expanded premises.

Planning officer John Evans explained the plan is to “give back to the public realm” with spaces accessible to the public.

Mr Evans said there will be “enhancements” to JJ Thomson avenue, including a new, segregated cycle route.

He said this will mitigate the flow of cyclists and “benefit the whole campus”.

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