We build because we believe in a better future and that is what this project is all about.
Canadian energy firm General Fusion want to transform how the world is energised by replicating the process that powers the sun and the stars on earth.
The design of this building is a statement of belief that we can use technology to work with natural resources to provide clean, safe, abundant energy for everyone forever.
We set out to find a physical way to express the extraordinary power and promise of fusion. To make fusion palpable from inside and out, to inspire the people who will work here, to engage the public by revealing what goes on and to set up a new relationship between nature and technology. We are making the science visible and by doing so we take away the fear.
The concentric nature of our design places the fusion machine at the centre with a halo of labs and offices encircling it. We see the building as an extension of the machine. This arrangement is logistically efficient but also sends a powerful message that everything is connected and that everyone is working together.
From wherever you are in the building, you have views of both science and nature. We bring our experience of designing museums, revealing the endeavour and getting you closer to the original, in this case the fusion machine.
It is not typical for industrial facilities to be designed with a focus on sustainability but it should be. Our design reduces energy consumption by over 40% and the incorporation of extensive PVs cuts energy draw from UK grid to almost zero.
We use natural light to illuminate, waste heat from the machine to heat the building in winter, and natural ventilation to cool the support functions and the machine in summer. A seemingly fragile outer skin, wraps around fusion island, creates a solar chimney, optimising natural ventilation and visually softening a very hard technology.
Despite being on a science campus, we are rewilding the landscape around the building creating a net gain and increase in biodiversity. Wherever we build, whatever the context, we have a responsibility to make a difference.
The building forms a part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s research centre at Culham in Oxford. Work started on site earlier this year.