The James Dyson Building

University of Cambridge

The James Dyson Building provides flexible and highly energy-efficient research, seminar and meeting spaces for post-graduate students at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering.

Linked by an atrium to the existing Department buildings, the new facility is located on a prominent and sensitive site within a conservation area and at a major gateway into Cambridge.

The Department’s priorities were for a low-energy building (targeting 100kWh/m2/annum total) that would showcase the state-of-the-art work of the Department. Much of the concrete frame of the building is exposed internally to assist in maintaining thermal stability and natural ventilation is encouraged using a series of chimneys running through the building.

Research groups worked with the contractor to incorporate active stress sensing of the concrete frame and low-carbon, magnesium blocks were also used in the build.

A large proportion of the construction cost was met through a generous donation by The Dyson Foundation.

This new space for Britain’s best engineers at the University of Cambridge will catalyse great technological breakthroughs that transform how we live.
Sir James Dyson


The building’s target for annual energy consumption was 100 kWh/m2

Extensive use is made of exposed thermal mass, including both the concrete soffits and exposed blade columns.

In Summer a two-sided ventilation strategy is used with air inlets on the east side of the building and vertical stacks on the west side, discharging at roof level. In Winter, a Breathing Buildings system provides natural ventilation airflow at close to room temperature.

Low energy LED lighting is provided throughout, with absence detection and daylight dimming. This is assisted by high levels of natural daylight.

Academic rigour must meet with practical invention. The Dyson Engineering Design Centre and the James Dyson Building for Engineering bridge the gap, encouraging engineers to apply their minds to creatively experiment and try new things.
Dame Ann Dowling CBE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Conservation area context

The James Dyson Building is located within the Cambridge Central Conservation Area and is also adjacent to the Grade II listed Royal Cambridge Hotel. Care was taken with both the scale and materiality of the building which was closely scrutinized by the Cambridge Design and Conservation Panel.

The proposed new building will make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area and the setting of the adjacent listed Royal Cambridge Hotel.
John Evans, Cambridge City Council 

Our Team

Project Team

  • Client: University of Cambridge
  • Project Management: University of Cambridge/Peter Brett Associates
  • Cost Planning: AECOM
  • Structural Engineer: AECOM
  • Services Engineer: AECOM
  • Landscape Architect: Nicholas Hare Architects
  • Sustainability Consultant: AECOM
  • Acoustician: Ramboll
  • Fire Engineer: Fire Ingenuity
  • Contractor: Morgan Sindall
  • Photography: Alan Williams


  • Regional Finalist: Civic Trust Award
  • Shortlisted: RIBA East Award
  • Shortlisted: RICS Award - Design Through Innovation