Ogden Center for Fundamental Physics at Durham University

Durham, United Kingdom


Durham University commissioned Studio Libeskind to create a new university building that will accommodate their expanding student body and staff, as well as house a new research facility for the study of fundamental physics. The new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics provides seventy-two new offices for professors, lecturers, doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, support staff and visiting academics of the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC)  the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy (CEA) and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation (CfAI).

At the core of the design’s concept is an emphasis on natural light and openness.  A spiral in plan, the Ogden Centre appears to be two stacked forms, which are exteriorly clad with a Scottish larch wood rain screen interrupted by bands of windows and terraces cutting across the facade.

The program called for a series of small work spaces for research. Studio Libeskind’s design placed all the offices in a ring along the exterior so each space has a window with natural light.  A frosted glass door for each of the offices creates a luminous and open visual throughout the building. Generous roof terraces create communal areas for occupants to relax and enjoy fresh air. Skylights in the central atrium marshal light into the building and flexible meeting areas.

Sustainability was at the heart of the design, with care taken to minimize environmental impacts and ongoing running costs, and to ensure excellent value for money. The design worked to deliver a state of the art and fully accessible facility, with robust materials and future-proofed capacity in IT infrastructure while at the same time having the construction provide for flexibility in its internal planning.  The Ogden Centre received a status of BREEAM Excellent standard of sustainability after its completion.

The project was completed in November 2016.

“This project is an example of how to design a highly-sustainable, dynamic building within tight programme requirements.”
– Architects Journal, 2016



2017 – AIA (American Institute of Architects) NY State Design Award
2017 – Constructing Excellence in the North East: Building Project of the Year
2017 – RIBA North East Regional Award
2017 – BREEAM Excellent rating
2016 –  City of Durham Trust Architectural Award