Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre, Phase 1

Hopkins Architects, Cambridge, 1985


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The transparent quality of the building shown at dusk 

Dave Bower     Download Original

  • The transparent quality of the building shown at dusk    
  • West elevation    
  • View across storage pond to south elevation    
  • Reception entrance    
  • Elevation showing offices and fabric roof canopy over bays    
  • Rear elevation of test centre showing glazed wall opening    
  • External perimeter office at night    
  • Suspended floors and roof    
  • Internal view of winter garden housing restaurant, reception and library    
  • Test station and restaurant side by side    
  • View of the winter garden    
  • Internal view from laboratories through to test station    
  • Internal view of control room looking out on to test station    
  • Internal view of office space    
  • Internal view of meeting room    
  • Site context    
  • Site plan    
  • Floor plan     
  • East west section    
  • Section through winter garden    
  • North south section    
  • Early isometric of office, lab and test station relationship    
  • 1984 computer simulation section    
  • 1984 computer simulation perspective    
  • Membrane fabrication process    
  • Workspace arrangement    
  • Diagram of bay showing structural steelwork and fabric roof    
  • Diagram showing environmental performance in summer    
  • Diagram showing environmental performance in winter    
  • Diagram showing lighting and acoustics    
  • May 1984 two structural bays are erected    
  • July 1984 the main masts are in place    
  • September 1984 two sections of the fabric roof, hoisted into place    
  • Lining up the internal and external holes    
  • The membrane of the first bay being hoisted up    
  • Membrane being hoisted up by the main cables and guided by temporary fixings    
  • Tensioning the mast rods    
  • Gable membrane being fitted    
  • Single steel tube external columns    
  • Test station under construction    
  • Internal view of laboratory    
  • Lightweight roof membrane and the seams that act like ribs    
  • Hoisting up the roof membrane    
  • Masts, tie rods, cables all used to support the fabric structure    
  • Detail of internal elevation and section of membrane and structure    

Steel and tensile fabric building consisting of a combination of intellectual and industrial functions for oil exploration and drilling technology

The brief required maximum contact between scientists of different departments, and the provision of facilities for visits and meetings with university personnel and staff.

Under the fabric roof are the drilling-rig test station and the main social space known as the 'winter garden'. The fabric covering is Teflon coated glass fibre. It is uninsulated and transmits about 13 per cent daylight. A cat's cradle of cables transmits the weight of the fabric to the ground via four structures like suspension bridges.

Beside these main spaces are two independently structured wings. Monitoring and planning rooms look into the workshop, and small private offices line the outside face, where they enjoy views over the landscape. Knitting the spaces together is a network of circulation and informal meeting spaces, encouraging contact between colleagues within the scientific community.


  • Begun: Sep 1983
  • Completed: Jan 1985
  • Floor area: 5,644m2
  • Sectors: Office, Education
  • Total cost: £7.7M
  • Procurement: Management
  • Address: High Cross, Madingly Road, Cambridge, CB3 0EL, United Kingdom

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