Harwell Campus may have been quieter than normal this year as people necessarily worked from home but on closer inspection it has been anything but, with construction continuing apace.
The Joint Venture has been forging ahead with an ambitious campus masterplan and has itself undergone a transformation since April, with the 50% purchase of the private sector holding by Brookfield Asset Management. The purchase brings further investment to the JV as well as additional property industry expertise, further expanding Harwell’s offering to the region and helping boost the local economy at a difficult moment in time.
Visible changes include the Zeus Building on Thomson Avenue, which is being clad in a contemporary Corten rust-coloured skin, designed to set the new facility into its natural landscape. When completed later this year, it will be let as a multi-occupation R&D, laboratory, office and engineering facility.
Lying close to Quad One, Zeus and HQ, beside Thomson Avenue, Quad Two is due to commence very soon. With a similar reflective glass look to its namesake, Quad One, the building will be constructed for completion by early Q1 2022 and will add another side to the quadrangle, providing transformational public realm and landscaped space inside a key campus hub comprising of a Café, Gym and neighbouring Quad One offices.
A recent visit by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) on campus made headline news in September, highlighting the progress made on the building, following an additional £93million investment from Government. The funding will fast track the build, bringing the opening forward 12 months ahead of schedule, and will increase the manufacturing capacity to be able to produce up to 70 million doses of a pandemic vaccine within 4-6 months. VMIC is another key addition to the growing HealthTec Cluster on campus, along with the Rosalind Franklin Institute that’s being built by STFC-UKRI.
Key infrastructure is also being put in place to support access to the VMIC site, with a Thomson Avenue road extension ready by December 2020, speeding up the process of fitting out the building.
On Eighth Street, the refurbishment of legacy buildings Airspeed One, Airspeed Two and Airmen’s Mess into contemporary new offices, is currently in hand, with companies already enquiring about space in a market that remains buoyant at the present time. The pandemic has brought about a re-think for many organisations and a desire to move to more rural locations, where employees have a shorter commute to work and plenty of office space to enable social distancing. Airspeed One and Two are scheduled for completion in November 2020, providing brand new office space, with Airmen’s Mess to follow in the summer of 2021.
BEPO, a building similar in structure to the Genesis building, will be earmarked for engineering and offices and is currently awaiting planning permission approval. Its 32,000 sq ft footprint is scheduled for commencement in Q1 2021 and for completion in Q3 2021.
Due to COVID-19 Harwell is adapting to new flexible working practices, where people split their time between their home and the office and many companies on campus have played a key role in addressing the global pandemic, carrying out important research into COVID-19, as well as providing vital medical equipment.
Harwell Campus is very much open for business and the focus on the importance of science, technology and research has never been under greater scrutiny. Discoveries are being made at a speed that would have been unthinkable even a year ago, and Harwell is a UK hub that’s continuing to contribute to the science and technology capital of the nation.