St John’s College Cambridge and Ionica






RICS Efficient Building Award 1995; Featured in Architects’ Journal - 1 Dec ‘94; The Intelligent skin - Architectural Press 2000; Architecture Durables - Pierre Lefèvre 2002


completed 1994


Ionica were the first ‘spin-out’ company from the rhp designed Innovation Centre within St John’s Innovation Park in Cambridge.

The headquarters building represents a landmark both visually as a gateway to Cambridge from the north-east and, in technical innovation terms, in the design of low energy sustainable offices providing a high quality flexible working environment. Our design pioneered a number of strategies and systems that were considered cutting edge at the time but have since become best practice.

The three storey building features two curved wings of accommodation on the north elevation, separated by a full height atrium from the main open-plan office areas overlooking open parkland to the south. The interior is flooded with diffused daylight from the linear glass roof which also incorporates a row of evenly spaced wind towers to provide controlled natural cross ventilation.

The main features of the building’s environmental systems are:

  • optimal building orientation for effective façade design.
  • excellent daylight levels and efficient and controlled artificial lighting.
  • efficient facade design with good insulation levels and solar shading.
  • central atrium with wind towers to provide controllable cross ventilation.
  • exposed concrete mass for thermal stability.
  • passive cooling by night time ventilation.
  • mechanical ventilation into the offices via linear cores in the precast concrete floor structure. 
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