176-178 York Way, Islington. Credit: Kiasm.

176-178 York Way, Islington. Credit: Kiasm.

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KPF Reveals Design for State-of-the-Art New Life Science and Technology Building in Islington

Delancey has submitted a planning application for the development of a landmark building, on a brownfield site, which will extend the influence of London’s Knowledge Quarter.

Delancey has submitted a planning application for a ground up 200,000 sq. ft (18,000m2) GIA life sciences and technology focussed commercial building at 176-178 York Way in the London Borough of Islington, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). The building is intended to contribute to London’s growing life sciences industry and expand the influence of the London Knowledge Quarter and Innovation District.

The development will provide a high-performance building catering for life-science, technology, and commercial office sectors. Flexible floor plates, including bespoke life-science lab space and traditional offices, can accommodate tenancies of various sizes, from start-ups to established ‘majors’, enabling the diverse mix of specialisms and scales required to build a successful innovation ecosystem. Typical floors have access to an amenity terrace, to enhance occupant well-being and meet the demands for high-quality contemporary workplace.

The proposal includes 130,000 sq. ft (12,000m2) of research and laboratory space, 13,000 sq. ft (1,200m2) affordable workspace, a mixed-use flexible community and events space, flexible makers’ space, and public realm enhancements.

At an urban scale, the design for 176-178 York Way represents a significant improvement to the pedestrian experience, opening a new route through Bingfield Street – previously a blind alley – and widening pavements on Randall’s Road, to provide 20,000 sq. ft (1,845m2) of new and improved public realm. On the ground floor a substantial ‘Urban Room’ is planned, a semi-public space providing access to the community at various times and activating the local area.

An innovative approach to structural design has been adopted in response to the challenging site – there are three Network Rail tunnels and two Piccadilly Line tunnels running as close as 4.5 metres below the surface. The structural strategy, developed with Arup, uses a deck-stiffened arch inspired by the 20th century bridges designed by the Swiss civil engineer Robert Maillart, with long-span arches to distribute the load of the building over underground railway lines.

At street level, the building is characterised by an open façade and visible structural arches which reference the neighbouring York Road station and create a unique identity for the development. The massing of the building incorporates a series of staggered volumes relating to the scale of the adjacent residential buildings and stepping back in sequence to reduce the perceived scale at street level.

The importance of facilitating cutting-edge research in our cities has never been more apparent. Labs represent unique and substantial sustainability challenges, they demand structural stiffness to reduce vibrations that can interfere with sensitive research equipment, and in-use energy demands can be 3-5 times higher than an office building of an equivalent size. 176-178 York Way has been designed to be a highly sustainable building, with inbuilt flexibility for future adaptation.

Passive and active strategies have been taken to reduce the whole life carbon. These include an all-electric MEP strategy, roof mounted PV and optimised external shading to reduce operational energy and with careful material selection and structural efficiencies to reduce embodied carbon. The development is targeting Nabers 4.5+ Stars.

Elie Gamburg, Design Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox: 
“176-178 York Way is a unique opportunity to sensitively stitch together existing communities and new developments on both sides of York Way, maximising opportunities for urban greening and public realm improvements, and supporting an inclusive economy. An innovative structural approach has been adopted to respond to the proximity of railway infrastructure. This enables a major new amenity space on the ground floor, called ‘Randell’s Room,’ that will function as a mixing chamber for people within the building and the wider community, establishing the building’s identity and celebrating this critical location. The building’s massing responds to its immediate context, creating a dynamic form, carefully articulated, that will accommodate best-in-class space for innovation and research.”

Nathan Watt, Development Director at Delancey
“At Delancey, we’ve worked on some of the UK’s largest regeneration projects, and we have a track-record of delivering on complex and constrained sites, building exceptional assets on behalf of client funds. Our plans for York Way will be no different – this is an exciting opportunity to realise a new hub for science and innovation in one of the most established life science and technology markets in the world. This is only the start of our journey, and we look forward to continuing our work with residents and Islington Council to bring these plans to fruition.”

Delancey expects to start on site next year, subject to approval, with construction completed in 2028.

Download the full press release here.