Sir David Attenborough Building - EOS

A major refurbishment and renovation of an iconic landmark in the heart of Cambridge – the building formerly known as the Arup Tower, is the result of a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the Museum of Zoology. The Sir David Attenborough Building, as it is now known, reinvigorates this iconic building. The driving force behind this £58 million facelift is the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a strategic collaboration founded in 2007 between Cambridge University and nine biodiversity conservation organisations.

As a leading innovator in light gauge steel construction, specialising in design, manufacture and supply of a wide range of steel solutions for the offsite market - EOS Facades were appointed to engineer and supply the framing system for this project totalling over 725m2 steel. 

EOS were selected not just for the company's ISO9001 accreditation but their ability to use leading edge technology to design and precision engineer pre-assembled CE Marked steel solutions to meet the bespoke requirements.

This project highlights how the effective use of an offsite manufactured steel system has provided true value to not only for the project delivery team, but also the end users including students, staff & the wider community. The aim of the Sir David Attenborough building is to act as a collaborative hub for the conservation community, providing a focal point for research and increase understanding of conservation biodiversity.

Whilst the building retained the original 500-seat lecture hall and a proportion of the upstairs laboratories, this renovation has allowed for the building to function in other capacities. The project provides a significant extension of the Museum of Zoology, including a space for the museum's beloved finback whale skeleton at its entrance, and has provided a new home for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. 

The principal challenge in carrying out the refurbishment of such a well-known structure has been how to achieve this whilst preserving the architectural integrity of Sir Philip Dowson's design.

EOS Facades were able to provide value engineered solutions which were sympathetic to the sensitive architectural redevelopment. Sustainability was also a key priority for this refurbishment. EOS Facades manufactured their sections which were then cut according to the exact design requirements and provided fully assembled resulting in near zero waste on site and a reduction in associated disposal costs.

The refurbishment presented various challenges not least the condition of the existing concrete frame which is approximately 45 years old. EOS Facades were heavily involved from the outset of the project inspecting every aspect of the site to ensure they could determine the most viable solution and appreciate the on-site tolerances.

For the main exterior walls, a new cladding system was installed which required tightly co-ordinated placement of EOS studs with a large quantity of horizontal noggins as fixing points. This process was replicated for the narrower, more recessed walls. For the vitrine wall, oversailing SFS was installed to the existing internal staircore using bespoke bracketry. SFS infill was also used on the large external wall of the new whale skeleton enclosure.

Possibly the most impressive focal point of the project – the 'living wall' was one of the most challenging aspects of this refurbishment. EOS value-engineered a 20-metre-tall framing system to support the heavy weight of the plants. Heavy duty bracketry together with SFS infill and vertically placed edge lattices provided the support required to achieve this structure. The lattice beams were engineered offsite and delivered fully assembled, ready for installation.

EOS Facades offer an all-inclusive fixed price package, supplied with proprietary brackets and fixings required - meaning delivery is on time and guarantees that all issues are resolved at the factory and are controlled by the dedicated team at EOS Facades under ISO9001 certified quality management systems.


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