A second building has opened as part of the department of fundamental physics at Durham University. Inaugurated earlier this month, the Ogden Centre West opens up further space for the expanding student population in the North East of the United Kingdom. Studio Libeskind realised the timber-clad addition to the historical city’s Russel Group University.

The New York-based firm’s affinity for sharp geometry results in an angular form that wraps around a central atrium. The natural palette of exposed concrete and timber finishes accumulate in a spiral plan which pushes the offices to the outer boundaries of the volume, optimising the availability of natural lighting and ventilation for the communal areas in the centre. Externally, the structure appears to resemble two forms embracing each other, ribboned with strips of windows. ‘The glazed curtain walls on the north and south faces book-end the building and provide views of the English countryside and Durham cathedral,’ the firm comments. ‘The choice of responsibly-sourced Scottish larch timber gives a warm and sustainable material that fits within the contemporary design and surrounding environment.’

The Ogden Centre has a global reputation as a leader in research and education and its second building will house the cosmology and astronomy research activities. ‘Spatially, the programme requirements are tight,’ the firm continues continues, ‘in order to provide the amount of office and meeting spaces needed for the number of researchers, postgraduate students, support staff and visiting academics, while also providing a highly sustainable building with warm interiors and light.’ The building is expected to receive a status of BREEAM Excellent.

Plan – Level 0

Plan – Level 1

Plan – Level 2

Location South Road, Durham, United Kingdom