General Fusion – Fusion Demonstration Plant (FDP)

August 17 2023

Back in 2018, Amanda challenged General Fusion to re-consider their design for a Fusion Development Plant. Closed and defensive, it did nothing to message the technological optimism of fusion:

Amanda for General Fusion newsletter March 2018

Amanda on ‘Why architecture matters here’ February 2020

AL_A proposed an alternative vision – a transparent building designed to reveal General Fusion’s pioneering technology. The design was conceived as an extension of the fusion machine and celebrates General Fusion’s extraordinary scientific endeavour. Challenging norms, the radial layout is more efficient logistically, gives visibility between departments and from wherever you are in the building you have a view of both nature and science.

Mediation between architect, engineer and scientist as a collaborative partnership has been integral to the success of the project.

Five years later we have taken another step towards the realisation of General Fusion’s ambition. In June 2023, work has started on site at UKAEA’s campus in Culham.

At Culham, AL_A have successfully led the team to achieve:

An ambitious programme – from RIBA Stage 1 (brief) to Stage 5 (construction) in little over 2 years.

A sustainability strategy which makes use of excess heat from the fusion machine to draw air through the building resulting in energy-free natural ventilation throughout.

Biodiversity net gain of +15% on an industrial site.

BREEAM ‘Excellent’ (on-track to achieve certification) for an industrial facility.

Full planning permission (including discharge of pre-commencement conditions) in a record time of 13 months for the tallest building on the UKAEA campus, a rural and sensitive site.

Managing complex stakeholder processes.

Reduction in carbon emissions of ~60% below a notional compliant building (Part L, Building Regulations).