Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute

A new laboratory building on the site of the obsolete Leslie Martin building, built to encourage collaboration between previously disparate research groups and provide integrated facilities for the Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute. The Institute houses Wellcome Trust-funded programmes in immunology, molecular developmental biology and microbiology. One floor is dedicated to research groups from several departments within the university specifically devoted to providing a focus for virology at Oxford.

The brief dictated that the design should provide opportunities to encourage interaction between these groups and other disciplines. An open, feature staircase provides a central focal point for this interaction to occur and is surrounded by state-of-the-art, flexible laboratory spaces.

The colours and articulation of the building’s exterior are carefully detailed to reference the adjacent Dunn School. The pattern in the terracotta louvers draws inspiration from the science that is undertaken in the building, by referencing the randomised DNA ladder.

Access was particularly challenging due to an extremely tight site, in the middle of a sensitive University research area. Early workshops allowed the design team to address these issues, and to shape the building around the unique construction logistics. The reinforcement for the new structure was specially detailed to use relatively short length bars so it could be transported to site on smaller vehicles, and could be safely transferred to the site amongst the existing buildings.

The building has been rated BREEAM Excellent.

Completed 2011.

Project Information


Oxford University Estates Directorate



Nightingale Associates




Barker Evans