Collaboration, Interaction and Connectivity at Illumina’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Headquarters
Alistair Cory and Justin Cratty in Headquarters, Workplace Design

Illumina’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Headquarters will promote scientific innovation through better collaboration, interaction and connectivity. Rendering © Gensler

October 21, 2015 marked the groundbreaking of Illumina’s new European, Middle Eastern and Asian (EMEA) Headquarters at Granta Park in Cambridge. The new EMEA HQ will provide Illumina’s workforce with a fully collaborative and better connected workplace to help the genetic-sequencing company achieve its vision of transforming human health.

Granta Park is a 120 acre science, technology and biopharmaceutical park situated at the heart of Cambridge’s Life Science Cluster.

Designed to achieve a ‘BREAM Excellent’ sustainability rating, the research facility will position Illumina for long-term growth in the EMEA region, while strengthening Britain’s position as a world leader in genetic medicine.

Gensler is applying its rich design background across a wide range of services, from master planning and landscape design to interior and laboratory design, to help transform Granta Park into a modern, lifestyle-oriented research park that will also include a 3,900 square metre Executive Health and Tennis Club, a range of green environmental improvements and future plans for the development of a 1,000 square metre nursery. This holistic design approach will create an environment that allows the site’s users to enjoy work, life and play all in one destination, setting it apart from other scientific facilities and elevating Granta Park as one of the UK’s premiere research campuses.

Gensler’s design offers Illumina employees an indoor / outdoor experience to enjoy work, life and play all in one destination. Rendering © Gensler

Gensler utilised its unique blend of skills to provide architecture, interior and laboratory design services to deliver Illumina a new EMEA headquarters that will serve a workforce of more than 500 employees from day one, but with the capacity to significantly expand as the company grows.

Rendering © Gensler

Illumina is consolidating its UK property portfolio from three different sites to one building, yet gaining more physical workspace to support a larger workforce and an entirely new way of working.

While the company’s three current UK sites are segregated between laboratory and office environments, Illumina’s new EMEA Headquarters will combine both environments into one building, adopting an open plan design that fully supports transparency, collaboration and connectivity.

Large areas of glazing will connect people to the picturesque landscape that the building is integrated into, with laboratories positioned adjacent to offices to help breakdown silos, enhance visual connections and prompt collaboration between departments.

Rendering of the Winter Garden with views to the landscape beyond. Rendering © Gensler

The design team utilised a comprehensive set of design services to provide a flexible workplace with the capability to significantly expand as the company grows. Each wing has been carefully designed to house 40% laboratory space on day one, but with the flexibility to expand to 60%. This will support an initial workforce of 575 employees which, over time, will grow to more than 700.

The layout has been carefully designed to switch seamlessly between laboratory services and office space in a way that minimises disruption to employees and lab functionality. This flexible arrangement will greatly aid Illumina as it evolves and reconfigures to suit the needs of such a dynamic and growing business.

The 21,200 square metre building will be constructed in two phases to support Illumina’s rapid growth. Construction for phase one will commence in October 2015 and include the 14,200 square metre construction of the Eastern and Central Wings. When complete in October 2017, the first phase will include laboratories, offices, a winter garden, landscaped terraces and an outdoor amphitheatre. The second phase will add a third wing and a further 7,000 square metres to the overall building.

Scientific innovation happens through collaboration and interaction – and Illumina’s employees will have a variety of workspaces from which to choose. The Winter Garden aims to bring the experience of a natural green exterior space into the surroundings and comfort of an indoor work environment. Whether focussing on an individual project at their desks or holding collaborative brainstorming sessions in a corner of the Winter Garden, employees will have the choice about how and where they work in the headquarters.

The new Amenity Building at Granta Park. Image © Gensler

Scheduled to begin construction in tandem with phase two of Illumina’s EMEA Headquarters, the Executive Health and Tennis Club will enhance Granta Park by adding state-of-the-art fitness and wellbeing facilities that will be accessible to all campus employees.

Interior view of the Amenity Building. Image © Gensler

Enhanced by its verdant context, the facility will be operated by BioMed Realty (BMR) and offer users an inviting destination that incorporates dynamic spaces, spectacular views and abundant natural light.

View of the woodland setting at Illumina’s EMEA Headquarters. Rendering © Gensler

The UK boasts a strong history of discovery in the life sciences industry, evident right through the 21st Century. Today it remains one of the most successful globally. The sector relies on innovation, collaboration and interaction from employees who, increasingly, also want more choice how and where they work.

Illumina’s new EMEA Headquarters matches and exceeds these requirements, providing a lifestyle oriented research campus that benefits employee wellbeing, nurtures innovation and positions Cambridge as a global leader of bioscience.

Alistair is Gensler’s Leader of UK City Regions, leading the growth of Gensler’s business in the UK key regions. As a highly experienced and creative development director, Alistair has led the successful delivery of a variety of healthcare and biomedical life sciences projects. He is driven by an enthusiasm for the transformational power of great design, and relishes the opportunity to produce intelligent and innovative buildings and interiors. Contact him at
Justin leads Gensler’s life sciences design EMEA, his design experience spans a wide range of facilities from metrology and robotics to pharmaceutical. Using his past experience as a scientific researcher, Justin brings invaluable knowledge, insight and passion to his design work, to create the best possible environments to support the work of today’s scientists. Contact him at
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