Foster + Partners unveils its master plan for the Ellison Institute of Technology, a forthcoming research park in Oxford, England

Down to a Science

Foster + Partners unveils its master plan for the Ellison Institute of Technology, a forthcoming research park in Oxford, England

Aerial view of the Foster + Partner–designed Ellison Institute of Technology, set for completion in 2026. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Eight years ago, researchers, scientists, and state officials in the U.K. came together to create the Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT), an organization studying medical science and healthcare, food security and sustainable agriculture, clean energy and climate change, and government policy and economics. Foster + Partners has released renderings revealing the expansive new campus for EIT in Oxford with space for research labs, an oncology and wellness patient clinic, and educational and meeting purposes.

The new building on the Oxford Science Park plot is situated adjacent to a wetland. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

The new Foster + Partner–designed campus offers 323,000 square feet and is spread across two plots: Littlemore House and Oxford Science Park. The two plots are connected by a treetop walkway, designed in collaboration with Fernando Caruncho, the landscape designer working on the project.

In the Littlemore section are several existing buildings that will be restored as part of the campus revamp. The cluster of structures, new and old, will comprise a single volume anchored by a verdant courtyard at its center. The green space will feature a water element in addition to seasonal vegetation, while the buildings will house a library, laboratory space, and a 250-seat auditorium beneath the courtyard water feature. New buildings designed for the site are defined by “sculptural fins” installed on the facades for shading and privacy.

Interior view of elevated walkway connecting the two sites (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

At the adjacent site, Oxford Science Park a single building with laboratory and education space will be realized. The structure will be hoisted up on stilts given its proximity to Littlemore Brook. A defining element of the new structure is the wooden geodesic dome on its rooftop. The unique meeting space will be outfitted with seating that wraps around its rounded perimeter.

In Oxford, Foster + Partners managed to retain and restore existing buildings to minimize embodied carbon on site while making a contemporary statement for tomorrow’s needs. At EIT, Foster + Partners has proposed a wooden dome structure at the center of the campus. Rooftops will be fitted with photovoltaics to directly convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Foster + Partners also specified pedestrian and cycle routes to encourage green transportation for staff and visitors between EIT and local railways.

In the research space the walls are lined with book shelves and spiraling staircases  (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

“Our design for Ellison Institute of Technology’s new Oxford campus creates a truly collaborative and nurturing environment, which will encourage research and breakthroughs,” Norman Foster said in a press release. “A primary objective of the project is to break down barriers between researchers, scientists, clinicians and patients, creating a human-centred and holistic approach to healthcare and technological innovation.”

Curved seating wraps the interior of the wooden geodesic meeting space (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Upon completion, the new EIT campus will facilitate current partnerships within the Oxford biotech and technology community, open up to opportunities for research collaborations with the University of Oxford, and help launch the new Ellison Scholars program for the next generation of global innovators.

Bookshelves and tiered seating and platforms are defining architectural elements of the domed library (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

The project is set for completion in 2026. It is targeting BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Platinum accreditation.