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Press release: Sainsbury Laboratory

sain lab sixteen red

The Cambridge University 'Sainsbury Laboratory' has been shortlisted for one of the UK's most prestigious architectural awards, The Stirling Prize.

The contemporary building was one of three projects in the RIBA 'mid-list' designed by Stanton Williams Architects. The Stirling Prize is awarded to the architects of the project built or designed in Britain 'which has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year'.

The building is very radical in its design and was driven by functionality in its brief to provide a new international research facility in plant science.

The building has a concrete frame which has been embellished by the use of 1,000 square metres of 50mm thick ashlar cladding applied both internally and externally. The yellow Jaumont French Limestone was also used to construct over 168 4.5metre high columns or fins each weighing 180 kilos. The fins add a strong horizontal emphasis as when scrutinised from close quarters you are able to clearly distinguish the bands within the limestone.

Stanton Williams worked closely with the Vauxhall based stonework contractors, Szerelmey Ltd who in addition to installing the stonework, also designed and developed bespoke lifting gear to install it. Stone is very much a prominent feature of the building and the columns and stone inner staircase, made up of individual stone units each weighing 220 kilos, needed careful installation and required constant consultation between the main contractors, Kier Regional, the installers, Szerelmey and architects Stanton Williams. The inner stone staircase links the two above ground storeys of the building with the subterranean level which has reduced the overall height of the building. Yorkstone benches and paving feature in the inner and outer courtyards which compliment the external fabric.

The Laboratory is situated with the University of Cambridge Botanical Gardens and brings together some of the world's leading scientists within the 11,000 sq m complex. Alan Stanton, director at Stanton Williams stated: "The Laboratory is a major new international centre for pure research in plant science" The building was funded in part by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation which was set up by David Sainsbury (now Lord Sainsbury of Turville) and reflects his passion for plant science research.

The project has already won numerous accolades including a Civic Trust Award, overall winner in the British Concrete Society Awards and has been entered by Szerelmey in the 2012 Natural Stone Awards. The Stirling Prize will be presented on the 13th October and the current holder is Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy.

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