It Takes
a Village

By mirroring its rural English setting, the new expanded campus for the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute weaves rural cues through its high-tech research campus, encouraging creative and collaborative science.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world’s pre-eminent genome research centers and was the single, largest contributor to the global Human Genome Project. To prepare for their next stage of genomic research and application, which involves the complex mathematical analysis of biological data, the institute needed additional space to accommodate an increase of staff from 650 to 850. The goal for the expansion was to develop a more diverse collection of state-of-the-art buildings that reflect the more open-ended nature of the institute’s next phase of research. At the same time, the new buildings could not disrupt the centuries-old, historic villages of the Cambridgeshire countryside, an area known for rolling green hills and natural beauty.

To facilitate this transition, NBBJ created a master plan for an adjacent 30-hectare parcel of land. The first phase includes bioscience research laboratories, a supercomputing data center, a research support facility, research and bioinformatic academic offices, shared dining, sports, and lecture facilities, a visitor reception and security building, and an underground car park. An Innovation Centre and space for private biotech start-ups were planned for later phases.

All the facilities are designed to meet the Sanger’s demanding technological and safety requirements—in addition to supporting health, collaborative research, social interaction, and protecting the surrounding environment.

Campus Master Plan

“ Most British science is carried out in universities or in city centers, often in old buildings. We've created a lovely rural campus with modern buildings. ”

Professor Allan Bradley Former Director, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Commitment to Sustainability
Commitment to Sustainability
Commitment to Sustainability
Commitment to Sustainability

Awards and Publications


Business Week/Architectural Record, Business Week/Architectural Record Awards Citation
R&D Magazine, R&D Lab of the Year Awards, Project of Mention
Considerate Constructors Scheme National Award, Most Considerate Site Award
South Cambridgeshire District Council, National Heritage Award
Royal Town Planning Institute, RTPI Planning Awards, Planning for Business Award


Change Design, "It Takes a Village to Map a Gene," 2009
Building Magazine, “Big Science,” September 30, 2005
Property Week, “Genetically Modified,” March 7, 2003