The Big Data Institute

Location: Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford

Departments: Medical Sciences Division and Nuffield Department of Population Health

What is the building for?

The Big Data Institute on Old Road Campus in Headington was completed in January 2017. It now houses around 550 staff and researchers from the University’s Medical Sciences Division and the Nuffield Department of Population Health.

The four-storey research centre, designed by Make Architects, will focus on the analysis of large, complex and diverse data sets for research into the causes and consequences, prevention and treatment of disease.

Researchers will develop, evaluate and look at methods for gathering and analysing information for large clinical research studies. These approaches will be invaluable in identifying the associations between lifestyle exposures, genetic variants, infections and health outcomes around the globe.

What is inside?

A mixture of individual offices and open plan spaces are built around a central atrium. This light-filled foyer provides access to a café, seminar rooms, meeting rooms and break-out areas. 

The building houses a Main Equipment Room (MER) which contains 32 water cooled IT data cabinets which have been sized to allow departments to draw down and analyse extremely large sets of information. When at full capacity, the MER and computing hardware is capable of delivering 600 million multiplications per second.

How sustainable is it?

As part of the sustainability strategy, the building incorporates a 600 metre-long network of air intake tunnels known as the “labyrinth”. Set below the basement to maximise the benefit of constant ground temperature, it cools incoming air in summer and helps to reduce heating loads in winter. This “labyrinth” is only one of a few in the United Kingdom.

The building currently achieves a BREEAM sustainability assessment of ‘Excellent’ and the team is assessing the potential of achieving a rating of ‘Outstanding’.  BREEAM is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

The external landscape features communal benching and tables crafted from eco-friendly Accoya pine. 

Project team:

Architect: Make Architects

Services: Long & Partners

Environmental / Sustainability: RES Design

Structural: Peter Brett & Associates

Cost: Arcadis

Project Manager: CPC Project Services

Contractor: Mace