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No 6245

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Vol cxlii No 10

pp. 199–213


Report of the Council on the construction of a new building for research in Experimental Astrophysics

The Council begs leave to report to the University as follows:

1. It is a strategic aim of the School of the Physical Sciences to provide the means for greater integration of research in the broad areas of astrophysics, astronomy, and cosmology, as part of the School’s ‘Extreme Universe’ research theme.

2. The construction and establishment of the Kavli Institute was a major, but only a first, step in achieving this strategic goal. It is clear that the full benefit of this investment will only be realized once a new building for Experimental Astrophysics is completed and academic staff are all on a single site.

3. The Council submitted a Report to the University proposing the construction of new building for the Kavli Institute in June 2007 (Reporter, 2006–07, p. 795). In the Report the Council also referred to a new Astrophysics building. The recommendations in the Report were approved by Grace 6 of 18 July 2007.

4. In seeking planning permission for the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in 2007, the University submitted an application showing proposals for both the proposed Kavli Institute building and the new Astrophysics building. Planning permission was granted for both buildings, but the proposal for the Astrophysics building has since been amended. It originally included laboratory facilities which have now been replaced with a lightly serviced workshop/design space, resulting in a smaller building than that previously granted consent. The City Council’s planning officers have indicated that a new planning consent and revised S106 agreement will be required as there have been ‘material changes’ to the building originally granted permission.

5. Academically, the Institute of Astronomy and the Cavendish Astrophysics Group, and to a lesser extent, researchers in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, bring strong and complementary skills and experience to research programmes. Yet it is becoming clear that the current distributed organization of astronomical research does not make best use of the Departments’ assets. The benefits of such collaboration have already been seen on the Planck Cosmic Microwave Background project. The Kavli Institute provides the ‘project-led’ catalyst to enable such collaborations to flourish and thus reinforce Cambridge’s leading research position.

6. The construction of a new building for Experimental Astrophysics provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Cambridge’s world-leading capabilities in a fresh way to external funding agencies and collaborators, whilst providing a vibrant and cohesive environment for research and teaching staff in furtherance of the School’s strategic goals.

7. The Planning and Resources Committee approved the Capital Projects Process Full Case Paper at their meeting on 12 October 2011.

8. The new building for Experimental Astrophysics will create a two-storey space of 1,200m2 and provide research accommodation for approximately 85 researchers in single or shared offices. The facilities will also provide a project meeting room and a workshop/design space partly shared with the Institute of Astronomy. The Department of Physics has decided not to relocate the existing highly serviced laboratories into the new building. These laboratories will remain in the Rutherford Building at the Cavendish Laboratory. As part of the works the existing Solar Physics Observatory building will be converted to create an Arts and Outreach Centre. Minor alterations will also be required to the 36-inch telescope building.

9. The estimated cost of the new building is £5m. Identification of the funding for this building is progressing well: the project will only proceed once the Planning and Resources Committee has been satisfied that full funding has been confirmed. The building is part of a wider development of the academic programme in Astrophysics and further funding opportunities are being explored to enable more of that development to take place in the future.

10. It is anticipated that the planning application will be submitted at the end of November 2011. The new building will be designed to achieve a BREEAM sustainability rating of ‘Excellent’ which is in line with other recently completed University buildings.

11. Planning consent is expected in March 2012 and construction is expected to commence in August 2012 and be completed in August 2013.

12. Drawings of the proposed scheme are displayed for the information of the University in the Schools Arcade.

13. The Council recommends:

I. That approval be given for the construction of a new building adjacent to the Kavli Institute for Experimental Astrophysics at Madingley Rise, as proposed in this Report.

II. That approval be given for a Planning Application to be submitted to Cambridge City Council Planning Authority.

III. That the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources, on the advice of the Director of Estate Management, be authorized to accept a tender for the building contract and all associated works in due course, subject to full funding being available.

21 November 2011

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

I. M. Le M. Du Quesnay

Mavis McDonald

David Abulafia

Nicholas Gay

Susan Oosthuizen

N. Bampos

David Good

Rachael Padman

Richard Barnes

Andy Hopper

Thomas Parry-Jones

D. J. A. Casserley

Christopher Hum

John Shakeshaft

Stephen J. Cowley

F. P. Kelly

Gerard Tully

Athene Donald

Vanessa V. Lawrence

Morgan Wild

R. J. Dowling

R. Lethbridge

A. D. Yates

Plan of proposed new building for research in Experimental Astrophysics More detailed versions: JPEG | PDF

Astrophysics Plan