UCL Cancer Institute

Grimshaw, London, 2007


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Terracotta louvres link the new building visually to the Paul Waterhouse block and the original hospital beyond 

Anthony Coleman (website)     Download Original

  • Terracotta louvres link the new building visually to the Paul Waterhouse block and the original hospital beyond    
  •  The entrance to the institute is next to a listed building by Paul Waterhouse, which has been retained as part of the scheme    
  • View down cul-de-sac towards the offices on the south side of the institute    
  • The building’s raison d’être is research: this is a ‘write-up’ area     
  • Lightwell between old and new    
  • Rooftop view from the institute towards UCH’s Euston Road Tower    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Third floor plan    
  • Roof plan    
  • Short section    
  • Huntley Street Elevation    
  • Facade under construction    

One of the largest biomedical facilities in Europe, accommodating 350 scientists in 4,500m2 of laboratory space over five floors

The internal layout follows a new approach to the design of research laboratories. It separates the practical laboratory from the write-up area, to create a distinct space for analysing and sharing information.

The write-up spaces which run the length of the Huntley Street elevation are the architectural focus of each floor and are divided from the laboratories by a combination of American cherry veneered acoustic panelling and glazed panels and doors.

The glazed elements have sand-blasted fritting to provide a degree of privacy between the two areas, while still allowing natural light to penetrate into the heart of the laboratories.

Images of cells, wave patterns and the chromosome permeate the forms of the building. For example, the terracotta louvre-bank suspended across the main façade has a rhythm that can be read as a vertical 'bar code' configuration or genetic sequence image; but also reflect the waveform that is so significant to modern science.

Likewise, concrete soffits are left exposed, retaining the details of their own construction and revealing points of reinforcement.


  • Begun: Jul 2004
  • Completed: Jul 2007
  • Floor area: 8,832m2
  • Sector: Healthcare
  • Total cost: £19.7M
  • Tender date: May 2000
  • Address: Cancer Institute, Paul O'Gorman Building, University College London, 72 Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6DD, United Kingdom

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