Herzog & de Meuron

AstraZeneca is establishing a new global research and development facility, named The Discovery Centre (DISC) in Cambridge, UK, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC). As part of the wider development known as the Cambridge Southern Fringe Area, CBC is envisioned as a future leading centre for biomedical research and development with institutions and companies from the education, health care, science and research sectors.

The DISC is located in the middle of the CBC; This central location reflects AstraZeneca’s ambition to be a key point of exchange and collaboration in the CBC, building on its many existing collaborations with members of the Cambridge Life Science community including the University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK. The architecture supports this drive and makes it visible with a porous building that is accessible from three different sides.

The new building is a triangular glass disc with rounded edges that loosely follows the shape of the site; it is defined by a saw-tooth roof that runs East to West to provide optimal natural light inside the building. The saw-tooth roof carries on through to the facade creating a tighter and larger vertical zig-zag geometry. The hovering glass disc with saw-tooth roof and stepped facade gives the building its characteristic appearance.

The DISC sits on six rectangular glass boxes grouped in three pairs. They form an open courtyard, which in combination with the low-rise building structure, references the historical colleges in central Cambridge. The courtyard is the central point of the site, a meeting point, openly accessible from three different sides.

The rectangular glass boxes run vertically through all floors and house the main programmatic element of the building, the laboratories. They allow multiple groups to work side by side, enhancing the collaborative process. The glazed perimeters of the above ground blocks promote maximum transparency across the floor and through the building, making science visible for employees and visitors.

The work space is an open plan layout, offering employees a range of alternative workplace settings from private study spaces and quiet booths to informal employee collaboration spaces. Along the inner ring, the main circulation space around the courtyard on the upper floors, there are additional complementary zones providing a range of diverse spaces for exchange, informal meetings and on-floor catering.

All the amenities – conference centre, auditorium, café and restaurant – are concentrated on the ground floor with direct access from the main entrance to make them equally accessible for the entire building.

The diversity of materials is minimised in order to foster a clear distinction between different programs. The floor materials reflect the functional organisation of the building: natural stone for the entrances, rough sawn solid oak for main stairs and inner-ring area and carpet for the offices and write-up floors. The floor in the laboratories is continuous white resin finish. The main partitions within the building are full height glass walls, allowing transparency and seamless transitions between the diverse areas. The other material of choice is exposed concrete, revealing the construction method and structural function while complementing glass and wood.

The functional diversity and the low rise of AstraZeneca’s The Discovery Centre allow each floor to be specific and different from one another. The underground level will contain support facilities, a loading area and plant zone; the street level is open and porous with both amenities and science on display in the laboratories; the first floor of the hovering disc is connected through the ring area and the second disc floor is top lit through the skylight of the saw-tooth roof. Despite the distinct work environments of the floors, the building appears as one characteristic structure serving as a pivotal point for the entire CBC campus.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2021

430_CP_HdM_Astra Zeneca_HuftonCrow_016
430_CP_HdM_Astra Zeneca_HuftonCrow_016




Project Team
Tomislav Dushanov (Associate, Project Director)
Dieter Mangold (Associate, Project Manager)
Amparo CasanĂ­ Arazo (Project Manager)
Marcelo Bernardi (Project Manager)
Alexander BĂĽrgi
Alexander Stern
Alexandros Mykoniatis
André Vergueiro
Argel Padilla Figueroa
Artem Kitaev
Blanca Bravo Reyes
Bruno de Almeida Martins
Caetano Braga da Costa de Bragança
Cagin Sergin
Carlo Morsiani
CĂ©line Jeanne
Christina Liao
Cristian Oprea
Dan Ladyman
Dave Edwards
David Gonçalves Monteiro
Delphine Camus
Diogo Figueiredo
Dominik NĂĽssen
Dulcineia Neves dos Santos
Edyta Augustynowicz
Evangelia Goula
Fabian Bartel
Farhad Ahmad
Felipe Pecegueiro Curado
Florian Frank
Francis Fawcett
Frédéric Beaupère
George Pickering
Giuseppe Giacoppo
Grima Thordardottir
GĂĽnter Schwob
Gwendoline Eveillard
HĂ©ctor Arderius
Herwig Schulz
Holger Rasch
Ignacio Cabezas
Ilia Stefanov Tsachev
Inga Federe
Isabel Labrador
Javier Artacho Abascal
Jean-Patric Wolf
John O’Mara
Julian Oggier
Keunyoung Ryu
Liheng Li
Liliana Filipa Amorim Rocha
Luis Gisler
Maciej Weyberg
Marie-Louise Raue
Marinke Boehm
Martin Brandt
Massimo Corradi
Michael Fischer
Michal Baurycza
Mikolaj Bazaczek
Mirjam ImgrĂĽth
Mohammad Al Sabah
Nils Jarre
Orama Siamseranee
Pedro Peña Jurado
Pedro PolĂłnia
Philip Turner
RaĂşl Torres MartĂ­n
Roman Aebi
Ruedi Gantenbein
Sara Jiménez Núñez
Simina Marin
Sophie Mitchell
Sophie Roelants
Stefan Goeddertz
Steffen Riegas
Svetlin Peev
Tanya Rainsley
Tomasz Saracen
Udayan Shankar Mazumdar
Vasileios Kalisperakis
Victor Lefebvre
ZaĂŻra Pourier


AstraZenca Ltd.
Executive Architect : Building Design Partners, London, UK
Landscape Architect: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Electrical Engineering: Building Design Partners, London, UK
HVAC Engineering : Building Design Partners, London, UK
Plumbing Engineering: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Structural Engineering: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Cost Consulting: Turner and Townsend, London, UK
Specialist / Consulting
Acoustic Consulting: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Lighting Consulting: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Sustainability Consulting: Building Design Partners, London, UK
Building Physics Consulting: Emmer Pfenninger, MĂĽnchenstein, Switzerland
Gastronomy Consulting: Tricon Foodservice Consultant, Romford, UK
Facade Consulting: Emmer Pfenninger, MĂĽnchenstein, Switzerland
Laboratory Planning: Abell Nepp Architects, London, UK
Traffic Consulting: WSP, Cambridgeshire, UK
Fire Protection Consulting: ARUP, London, UK
Logistics Consulting: ARUP, London, UK
Signage Consulting: New ID, Basel, Switzerland
Other: Horus Security Consultant Ltd, Oxford, UK
External Special Glazing: Permastelisa UK, London, UK
External Special Glazing: Scheldebow, Heerlen, Netherlands
Concrete Works: Byrne Bros, London, UK
Internal Doors: TRIA, PORSEG, Mortágua, Portugal
Internal Doors: AEL, Architectural Engineering (Aluminium and Steel Glazing) Limited
Internal Special Glazing: Zueblin, Stuttgart, Germany
Feature Stairs & Reception Desk - Timber: Treppenbay, Ganterschwil, Switzerland
Feature Stairs – Metal: D Wilson, UK
Joinery: Heuston Cox, Fleet, UK
Joinery: Monarch Joinery, Ipswich, UK
Joinery: Suffolk and Essex Joinery Ltd, UK
Architectural Metalwork: CMF, Feltham, UK
Stonework: Putney & Wood, Essex, UK
Building Data
Site Area: 214'255 sqft, 19'905 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 577'504 sqft, 53'652 sqm
GFA above ground: 386'628 sqft, 35'919 sqm
GFA below ground: 190'876 sqft, 17'733 sqm
Number of levels: 4
Footprint: 86'326 sqft, 8'020 sqm
Length: 475 ft, 145 m
Width: 511 ft, 156 m
Height: 65 ft, 20 m
Gross volume (GV): 12'297'055'111 cbft, 348'213'495 cbm
Facade surface: 286'082 sqft, 26'578 sqm


Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): “Arquitectura Viva Monografias. Herzog & de Meuron 2013-2017.” Vol. No. 191-192, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 12.2016.