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John Chuckman


Francis Crick Institute’s £700m building ‘too noisy to concentrate’
Some of the 1,250 people working at the year-old laboratory say its open plan layout, designed to produce collaboration, makes it hard to focus on work

This is a striking building from outside.

But the design inside is not at all successful aesthetically, and, from what I know of other contemporary buildings with something of the kind, huge open spaces as the atrium area here, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if its noise levels were bad.

I’ve been in school buildings built in this fashion inside, and they absolutely failed their purpose and condemned generations of students to a poor learning environment.

Such a design inside also wastes a huge amount of potentially usable floor space and actually makes it awkward to move from one side of the building to the other.

I regard such efforts inside as violating a prime dictum of good architecture. Le Corbusier said a house is a machine for living, and of course it follows that such an institute is a machine for the activities of the institute, not a place just to gaze at other levels.

An internal design which makes it unnecessarily difficult to move around actually violates the purpose of this building stated to be a place where scientists work together to make breakthroughs. Work together? In an interior like this? I don’t think so.

And, of course noise levels only further defeat the purpose.

A sadly failed building, I think, but one with an extremely handsome presence on the street.

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