Stanton Williams' Stirling Prize-winning Sainsbury Laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility for Cambridge University. This programme looks at how the Sainsbury Laboratory was built. It examines the crucial role engineer Adams Kara Taylor (AKT) II played in realising the highly technical building, including designing the building's long spans and cantilevered walkways, tackling a brief that called for a complete absence of visible expansion joints, and overseeing the complicated in-situ, jointless concrete pours that have helped give this building such a distinctive look.

This programme will be of particular interest to architects and engineers.

Key learning points:

  • An overview of the scheme and the client’s requirements
  • Engineering cantilevered floors and in-situ concrete pours
  • vibration and deflection, and why they need to controlled

Discussion points:

  • What types of slabs were used on this project?
  • What is Young's Modulus and why does it matter?
  • How did AKT achieve external nosings with no expansion joints
  • Why are chamfered edges easier to achieve than 90 degree ones
  • Why was 'the street' so integral to the building's strength?

About the contributors

Gavin Henderson, Director Stanton Williams, joined the practice in 1994. He has worked on a number of the practice’s high profile projects, including Compton Verney Art Gallery, the Millennium Seedbank and public realm proposals for Sloane Square.

Currently a Design Surgeon for Urban Design London, Gavin is a critic and lecturer at a number of UK schools of architecture and has taught at the University of North London. He is a past member of the National Design Review Panel for CABE.

Gavin studied architecture at the University of Cambridge and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and was awarded the RIBA Bronze Medal, and a commendation for the RIBA Silver Medal, for his student work.

Steve Toon, Director, AKT II, joined AKT in 1997as a graduate engineer (from the University of Sheffield) when the practice was in its second year.

The Sainsbury Laboratory gave Steve and AKTII the opportunity to put into practice knowledge gained over various projects including the 2012 Athletes’ Village, Birmingham New Street Station and Argent’s King’s Cross Development.


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