Facility to house third of museum’s collection along with digitisation labs

Mace has been given the all-clear to build a new outpost for the Natural History Museum in Berkshire.

The firm was appointed to the scheme last November and last night Wokingham council formally approved the London museum’s application for the four-storey research and collections facility at Thames Valley Science Park, near Shinfield.

When it becomes operational in 2031, the building will around a third of the museum’s collection, amounting to 28 million specimens including fossilised mammals and invertebrates, and preserved corals, crabs, worms and molluscs.

Main entrance reception. Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios architects, courtesy of Natural History Museum

Inside will be numerous laboratories for digital imaging and analysis

Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the facility will also include an imaging and analysis centre, digitisation suites and molecular biology laboratories for studying ancient DNA, cryo-facilities for storing tissue, conservation laboratories and quarantine facilities.

The project team on the scheme includes cost consultant Arcadis, project manager CPC, civil and structural engineer Ramboll, sustainability consultant Mace, planning consultant Carter Jonas and landscape architect Grant Associates.

Looking north along access road  Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios architects, courtesy of NHM

The building will house around a third of the museum’s collection

Tim Littlewood, executive director of Science at the 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.”

The council’s planning officers said the scheme was of a high quality of design and would bring substantial economic benefits to the local area, while praising its sustainability measures, which include air source heat pumps and ventilation heat recovery. A new road to connect the site with the local network will also be built.