Bouygues UK, one of the country’s leading construction companies, and the University of Cambridge, have marked the start of work on a new £300m state-of-the-art physics laboratory and a neighbouring shared facilities hub.


The development, at the West Cambridge campus off Madingley Road, will provide a purpose-built centre for world-leading physics research, bringing together all of the Cavendish Laboratory’s research groups under one roof. The flagship building of the new Cavendish Laboratory will be named the Ray Dolby Centre, in recognition of a £75 million gift from the estate of sound pioneer Ray Dolby.

With a GIA (Gross internal area) of around 354,000 sq ft (33,000 sq m), the Ray Dolby Centre will house a range of laboratories, offices, clean rooms, workshops and multiple lecture theatres. The basement area will incorporate specialist acoustic and vibration treatments to achieve the stringent control criteria necessary for operating equipment highly sensitive to vibration. There are also challenging criteria to be met in relation to temperature and humidity control and EMI (electromagnetic interference) protection. An independent 50,000 sq ft (4,700 sq m) Shared Facilities Hub, will provide catering, collaborative teaching, meeting, study and library spaces to the campus.

Beyond the technical aspects, particular attention has been paid to the environment, with both buildings designed to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent rating.

The project will help strengthen the University’s position as a leading site for physics research and will provide a top-class facility for the nation, with much of the research equipment made available to other institutions.

The building has also been designed to encourage collaboration and will host public events to support the extensive programme of work with schools, and the general public.

The new development will combine with the department of Physics’ new strategic plan and research goals. The building, and new strategic plan, represent a renaissance of the way the department carries out physics research and achieves its research goals. The spirit of adventure and innovation will be fostered in the Cavendish tradition, but adapted to the new needs of frontier research.


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