Rosalind Franklin Institute
Harwell, Oxford

Interdisciplinarity is the drawing together of two or more academic ways of thinking to create something new. Innovators know the power of interdisciplinarity, and how breakthroughs and creativity spark when different disciplines share the same space. The Rosalind Franklin Institute is designed with that principle at its core, and it is dedicated to propelling transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development.

A pioneering figure in the discovery of the DNA structure, Rosalind Franklin is known for her approach rooted in physics and technology, and for having deeply transformed life science. The Institute that carries her name adheres to her spirit, with the aim of developing new techniques and tools and applying them for the first time to biological challenges

The project involved 11 joint venture partners to combine ten different universities into one building and create a hub to encourage partnerships between academics and industry scientists. The hub sees researchers coming together to develop new technologies in mass spectroscopy, microscopy, structural biology, imaging, and chemistry, in a joint effort to advance 21st Century medicine.

The building is located on the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire, where the researchers can take advantage of other Harwell facilities, such as The Diamond Syncatron. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) developed an initial brief with the university bodies, which subsequently formed a board to run the institute. 

Given the complexity of the multi-faceted studies carried out within the building, end-user engagement was vital to ensure the design team properly understood the needs of the researchers. They essentially became an extension of the design team, providing expertise in their very specific research fields.

Engagement with stakeholders was planned in detail with specific user-group meetings to create detail data sheets for every space. This process was crucial to transfer specific end-user requirements for the design team to propose design solutions. The approach ensured momentum was maintained, as the programme was quite fast paced, and allowed for the design to progress from Stage 2 to commencing on site within ten months.

Due to the level of mechanical and electrical services required, the project was delivered as a BIM Level 3 project. Weekly clash detection meetings were held and the team utilised BIM360 to resolve any issues prior to construction. This greatly reduced the number of post construction alterations required to the frame. With the high level of coordination between members of the design team, the project was able to incorporate Modern Methods of Constructions (MMC) for the plant rooms to reduce costs, programme on site and enhance build standards.  This greatly helped recover the programme, which had experienced delays due to the pandemic. The RFI has been specially designed to enable ease of extension to the next phase of works.

Completed 2021

Project Information


Science and Technology Facilities






Alex Antitch