As a city famous for education, Oxford was lacking in science education centres for younger children. It was also direly in need of space for smaller science and innovation companies. With this in mind, the Oxford Trust and Science Oxford teamed up to create a science education and innovation centre in the East Oxford suburb of Headington, appointing ADP to design the new building.
Sustainability was a core part of the brief. Set within 18 acres of woodland, the centre would need to blend in with its surroundings, with a light environmental footprint. The clients were also faced with a restrictive budget, and were uncertain about how they wanted the design to develop.
We looked closely at several options with the clients before agreeing on an option that would best benefit the community. This option envisaged the Science Oxford Centre – the children’s education part of the scheme – as an indoor-outdoor, fully immersive experience. At the heart of the centre is the Exploration Zone, a hands-on exhibition encouraging children to explore and discover through scientific play. Beyond this are outdoor terrace areas, surrounded by woodland, ponds, walkways, and grasslands, so that children can expand their scientific discoveries to the natural world.
Stansfeld Park is also home to the Wood Centre for Innovation, where we took care to design offices that
catered to a wide range of start-ups and small businesses. Tenants can also use a shared breakout space and kitchenette next to the main staircase – ideal for ad hoc and collaborative working.
We used modular construction and a grid layout to stay within the budget, giving the added advantage of a building which can be easily adapted in the future. The centre is clad in carbon positive timber, meaning that it absorbs more carbon than it emits during its life. Over 6000 young scientists visited Science Oxford in its first year, and the centre has been recognised by a number of local and national awards.
“The resulting site has been developed with a clear, accessible and inclusive design strategy that runs from the moment you enter the site, through to the building and out into the wider woodland beyond. The Trust are delighted with the collaborative approach of ADP and their input into the ongoing success of the project.”– STEVE BURGESS, CEO OF THE OXFORD TRUST