Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology

Southampton, UK

The new 4,000m2 four-storey Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology (SCCI) houses state of the art equipment to support the development of new cancer immunotherapies, from discovery in the lab through to clinical trails.

The project was a joint venture between the NHS trust at Southampton General and the University of Southampton. The Centre acts as a hub for international collaboration, working with academic and industry partners worldwide, to expand clinical trials, explore new areas and develop lifesaving drugs.

The Buro Happold team worked alongside multiple stakeholders to develop structural, MEP, energy and sustainability solutions for the building, which includes laboratories, a preclinical unit and general office space.


Designed to inter-relate with Southampton University’s IDS/Somers research building, the SCCI needed to become an impressive landmark that inspires staff and visitors. Internally, the SCCI needed to promote innovation and enhanced social inclusion. A key imperative was to develop a structural design that would enable the architects to achieve this vision.

The project was procured under the NHS ProCure21 National Framework, an agreement between six Principal Supply Chain Partners (PSCPs) and their supply chains. This meant that we had multiple stakeholders to work with, so careful planning and coordination was paramount to ensure all the different requirements were met. In addition, as funding came from a charitable trust, the budget was closely controlled and monitored, so it was vital that any solutions remained within these financial constraints.

Exterior shot Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology
The four storey building has been split horizontally with the two lower levels housing spaces for administrators and researchers and the top two levels dedicated to laboratories and workshops. Image: Kier


To achieve the client’s ambitions for the internal spaces, the building is horizontally split, with the lower two floors housing workspace for researchers and administration and the upper floors containing the laboratories. The first two floors are predominantly glazed, offering naturally lit, open spaces with visual connections between the interior and exterior. The laboratory spaces overhang the lower floors, and are enveloped in a deep copper colour cladding that changes colour with the sun position, reflecting the changing nature of research.

Interior Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology

In order to successfully deliver the highly technical MEP systems required for the laboratory spaces, our team developed a detailed stage 3 report that incorporated our client’s requirements. We worked closely with existing laboratory occupants and the future users of the centre to help us fully understand their aspirations for the new facility. This allowed us to design a technical working space that was also user informed and low maintenance while remaining within budget.

The space required plant equipment that was highly complex, so we worked with all stakeholders from a very early stage of the project to determine the exact MEP requirements for each element. This early planning also meant that we could inform the layout of the facility and the associated plant spaces.

In addition, we investigated a number of different heating strategies that could allow us to comply with different statutory requirements, while also considering the restrictions imposed on the Centre because of the high consumption of energy it demands.

Interior communal space at Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology
The Centre acts as a hub for collaboration, encouraging interactive research and knowledge sharing. Image: Kier


Our input into the design process and close collaboration with stakeholders was fundamental to the success of this project. The Centre is now home to world-class research facilities, uniting existing immunology teams from different research bases while also attracting new world-leading scientists from a variety of fields. This cross-discipline collaboration in a cutting-edge environment means experts can push the boundaries of knowledge ever further to develop the next generation of life saving drugs.

Interior study space Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology
Interior Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology
Our team carefully specified the MEP systems to ensure the optimal solution for the laboratory spaces. Image: Kier
Talk to us

Our policies and terms outline the information we collect about you, and how we process your personal information, please read them to be fully informed. We also use cookies on our website to provide you with a better experience. By continuing to use this site, without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Continue Close