NuGen Properties

Natural History Museum appoints Mace for Reading research centre

The new building, looking more like a big pharma box than a museum to add to the nation’s built heritage, is designed by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios

The  new 25,000 sqm Natural History Museum (NHM) Collections, Research & Digitisation Centre is to be built at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield.

Mace has been appointed to deliver pre-construction services including design and procurement.

Other members of the project team include CPC Project Services as project manager, Arcadis as cost consultants, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios as architect and Ramboll as civil, structural, mechanical & electrical engineer.

Construction is expected to begin in 2024, subject to planning permission, which has been submitted to Wokingham Borough Council, and completed in 2027.

The project is enabled through a £201m investment from the UK government as part of its policy of promoting investment in science, research and development.

By 2031, the centre will be operational, with laboratories for museum scientists and storage space for 28 million specimens. The facility will also include an imaging and analysis centre including digitisation suites; state-of-the-art molecular biology laboratories including ancient DNA labs; cryo-facilities for tissue storage; conservation labs; and specimen preparation labs including quarantine facilities.

Keith Jennings, director of estates, projects and masterplanning at the Natural History Museum, said: “This new site will enable us to secure irreplaceable collections in a purpose-built storage facility, provide new scientific infrastructure to accelerate research and digitisation, and act as a base for new collaborations and partnerships.

“We are very excited to see the project reach this stage and look forward to working with Mace under a pre-construction services agreement to further develop the project and prepare for the construction phase.”

Mace Construct chief executive Gareth Lewis said: “Together with our supply chain we will be raising the bar on sustainability and apply the latest digital thinking to deliver the project to the highest quality and safety standards.”

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