Construction work begins on cutting-edge Dyson building

Catherine Maguire 18 January 2015

Construction of the innovative James Dyson Building has commenced, eight months after the James Dyson foundation donated £8m to create a technology hub at the University.

One of the project’s most ambitious aims is to create a central nervous system within the building, allowing users to “ask” the building how it is feeling. Sensors will be developed by the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC). Dr Mohammed Elshafie, Co-Investigator at CSIC spoke of the potential of this technology, adding: “CSIC sensing technologies transforms the building from a passive block of material into a living creature. We will be able to ask the building how it is feeling and the building will be able to reply”.

The project will also see the construction of individual incubator units for students and researchers, and will facilitate research into areas such as electric vehicles and carbon nanotubes.  On-site specialist information concerning research strategies will also be available. Spanning four storeys, the building is both energy and carbon efficient, with its completion slated for November 2015.

At a ceremony marking the beginning of the building works, the Head of the Department of Engineering, Professor David Cardwell said that “it is a very exciting time for engineering”, pointing to the merits of modern-day construction.

“There is so much opportunity to use the fabric of the building in terms of research and generating data and teaching students.“The modern way is to bring the building to life and this is a fantastic opportunity”. Pointing to future projects, Professor Cardwell added: “It’s the sign of the future and we will be doing much more of this sort of thing as we move forward. There are very exciting times ahead.”

Also present at the ceremony were Bob Ensch, Area Director at Morgan Sindall, the project’s main contractors, and Angus Stephen, Director of Operations for the University’s Estate Management. The three speakers universally acknowledged that the building facilitate technological and environmental innovation.  

Student reaction was similarly enthusiastic. A third-year engineer at Churchill College told TCS: “I am excited by the new James Dyson building, which allow students to study the structure with its system of sensors built in. The new building will provide more space and equipment that will benefit all of those who work in the department”.