Henry Wellcome Building of Gene Function


The Henry Wellcome Building of Gene Function houses a recently established medical research centre (The Oxford Centre for Gene Function) that brings together anatomists, physiologists and bioinformaticians to develop new approaches to the investigation and treatment of a number of conditions at the genetic level. The new Centre is headed by leading academics in their fields; Professors Dame Kay Davies, Frances Ashcroft and Peter Donnelly. The Centre has been producing world class research since its inception in 2000. It began operating from the building in September 2003.

 The Building

The building sits on a tight site formerly occupied by greenhouses and a garage at the back of the University's Science Area and adjacent to University Parks. The site adjoins the Sherrington Building and the Old Observatory, the first building in the Science Area. The building was conceived as a glassy pavilion on the edge of The Parks, contrasting with the much heavier formal brick structure of the adjacent Sherrington Building.

The 3,000 sq.m. building is of five storeys, one basement and four floors above ground. The building mixes office, dry lab and wet lab areas together as far as possible to stimulate scientific interactions. The building takes its model from the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine with primary labs and offices being located on each side of the building with shared secondary support spaces in the centre. The building makes the most of views over University Parks with a seminar and common room at the top of the building opening onto a terrace over looking The Parks.

The project also included refurbishment of space in the Old Observatory for further support labs.

Key stakeholders

The Centre applied to, and received funding from, the Wellcome Trust via the Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) initiative. Additional funding was received from the Wolfson Foundation and the PF Charitable Trust, as well as support from the University. The funders met not only the cost of the building, but also furniture and equipment.

Project Team


  • Architect: RMJM Ltd
  • Services Engineer: Faber Maunsell
  • Structural Engineer: Faber Maunsell
  • Cost Consultant: Capita Symonds
  • Contractor: Walter Lilly
  • Project Manager: Estates Services
  • Project Completion date: September 2003


Total project cost: £12m (incl. fees, VAT, etc.)

Construction cost: £8.5m


The building received a Civic Trust award in 2005.