Cambridge Science Park
Cambridge CB4 4GW
Napp Laboratories building was part of the early development of Cambridge’s
highly successful Science Park. Its size (much the largest building in the
Park), striking design (sometimes described locally as a toaster), and
prominent location all make it a distinctive landmark.
Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, who won the international design
competition, describes the building:
Designed as a low-profile
structure, the building's exterior glass block curtain wall and aluminum-clad
arches achieve the blending of its industrial character with the historic
pastoral Cambridgeshire landscape. The linear structure of the building
allows for virtually unlimited extension and internal flexibility, while the
sloping glazed curtain wall effects an aesthetically pleasing 'soft
transition' between building and sky.
The design for this complex
takes great care to harmonize with the pastoral characteristics of the
landscape. The building itself reflects the bank by hugging the ground,
while the placement of the buildings complement the existing hedgerows, as
does the planting of rows of hawthorns and poplar against long earth banks
to screen parking, recreational and garden areas. The use of a canal
alongside the building serves to recall the association of building with
water in the historic Cambridge area.
rather organic perspective is an optimistic description of the
clinical, bright-white prisms lying in geometric landscaping. The sheer
scale of the now-expanded building ensures that even its “low-profile”,
“ground-hugging” design has an imposing presence. But it is a positive
presence, with an elegant simplicity of form that continues to look like new
after more than twenty years.
How to visit
building is a working pharmaceutical laboratory and manufacturing plant, and
is not open to the public. However it can be clearly seen from the the
Milton Road, traveling north out of Cambridge to the roundabout with the
A14, and from the A14 roundabout itself. To see more closely, drive into the
Science Park (entrance signposted from Milton Road), turn right, and right
again for Napp Laboratories where there is a visitors’ car park.