Sainsbury Laboratory

Location: Cambridge University

Sainsbury Laboratory housing 120 scientists studying plant development and diversity is a state-of-the-art laboratory facility. Started in February 2008 and completed in December 2010, it attracts scientists from around the world. Funded by the Gatsby Foundation, the laboratory explores the regulatory systems underlying plant growth and development.

The £82m complex, designed by Stanton Williams architects, reconciles advanced scientific requirements with outstanding landscaping to provide a collegial, stimulating environment for innovative research. Laboratories and seminar facilities integrate with the University’s Herbarium and public café to afford a continuous route, recalling the ‘thinking path’ described by Charles Darwin (whose mentor, John Henslow, oversaw the laying out of the Botanic Garden), as a way to reconcile nature and thought through the activity of walking.

GreenBlue Urban were chosen to ensure tree sustainability through a number of specialist planting products. RootCell structural soil modules and the Arborvent root irrigation and aeration system were backed up by the Root Director tree root management system,

GreenBlue Urban also provided tree pit installation assistance from initial pit excavation through to final tree establishment. Several years on, the urban trees are thriving and, with the variety of plant growth around them, provide an idyllic haven for both researchers and wildlife.

Lord Sainsbury commented: “This is one of the most exciting projects with which my Charitable Foundation has been involved. It combines an inspirational research programme, an historic site in the Botanic Garden and a beautiful laboratory designed by Stanton Williams. I believe it will become a world class centre of excellence in plant science.”