New London Architecture



Abcam, a global innovator in life science reagents and tools, has a new state-of-the-art global headquarters, Discovery Drive, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc

Knowledge Networks: London and the Ox-Cam Arc

Abcam, a global innovator in life science reagents and tools, has a new state-of-the-art global headquarters, Discovery Drive, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC), a leading hub of healthcare, science and medical research. Designed by international architecture and design firm NBBJ, the 100,000 sq ft laboratory and office facility forms part of the second phase of CBC’s new global healthcare village, which is being jointly developed by Liberty Property Trust and Countryside Properties.

The building is home to over 450 Abcam staff, from all business functions — including R&D, laboratory, logistics, corporate and commercial departments. To support the Company’s continued growth, the new building provides 75% more space, features fully flexible laboratory configurations, and has new instrumentation and technology for enhanced scientific capabilities. It has also been designed to support agile working and provide introvert and extrovert workspaces. In addition, Discovery Drive has been developed to meet global sustainability standards, enhance employee wellbeing and help protect natural resources in the environment. Based on the interactive culture and non-hierarchical structure of Abcam, Discovery Drive’s interior design creates an open, connected, and collaborative workplace.

NBBJ achieved a flexible and efficient design by organising the building in two distinct volumes. This dual section can be seen from within the full-height atrium space connected by a central staircase. The feature stair links staggered floor plates of offices and laboratories, encouraging opportunities for ad-hoc social interaction between floors. The building’s striking exterior features parametrically designed extended fins and brise soleil, giving it a distinct identity and marking a new gateway to the south west entrance into the wider campus. Expansive glazing allows views out to the surrounding countryside, while ‘putting science on show’ by making the work within visually accessible to the public.

A variety of hard and soft landscaping helps to situate the building within the campus, and outdoor amenity spaces with integral cycle storage are provided for employees. The campus’ natural biodiversity is enhanced through indigenous planting, bird boxes, and landscape rainwater management using bioswales.

‘This is a state-of-the-art laboratory and office facility that enables scientists and clinicians to spearhead research excellence within a world-class urban setting. The new facility supports the development of the life sciences community at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, where breakthrough ideas transition from researcher’s bench to patient’s bedside on one site.’
Andrew Blevins, Managing Director, Liberty Property Trust

Project information




* N/A Outside of London


12000 sq m


January 2019


Dame Mary Archer Way, Cambridge CB2 0SL, UK

Team Credits





Structural Engineer


M&E / Sustainability Engineer

Hoare Lea

Quantity Surveyor



Liberty Property Trust (shell and core) and Abcam (fit-out)

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