Sainsbury’s Botanic Laboratory

The Sainsbury Laboratory, an 11,000 sq.m plant science research centre set in the University of Cambridge's Botanic Garden, brings together world-leading scientists in a working environment of the highest quality. The design reconciles complex scientific requirements with the need for a work of architecture that also responds to its landscape setting and provides a collegial, stimulating environment for innovative research and collaboration. The building comprises laboratories, support areas, and meeting spaces, together with the University's Herbarium, new public café and seminar room. Central to the building's identity is the way in which it is experienced as a sequence of spaces that are conceived in terms of their relationship with the surrounding Garden. The way in which the Laboratory's different functions are connected by a continuous route recalls the 'thinking path' described by Charles Darwin (whose mentor, John Henslow, oversaw the laying out of the Botanic Garden), a way to reconcile nature and thought through the activity of walking.