Project Capella, University of Cambridge – DFMA: what went well, what didn’t and lessons learnt

Time: 15:05 - 15:25

Date: Wednesday 16 October


Project Capella, the new £79m home of the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, will bring all of the Institute’s research groups together under one roof, resulting in a fully integrated, vibrant and cohesive stem cell community, ideally placed to capitalise on its unique intellectual and clinical environment. Being based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus will allow for greater collaboration between scientists and clinicians and further advance the application of stem cell discoveries into the patient setting. Built by Kier Construction and designed by architects from The Fairhurst Design Group, the six-storey centre is located directly next to the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.

In this presentation, Mark Adey, director at The Fairhursts Design Group, will take a more detailed look at the design processes and construction approaches used for this landmark project where DFMA has been successfully utilised to fast-track a complex laboratory development with 80% of the superstructure and façade manufactured off-site. The presentation will cover what worked, what didn’t and what the development team has learnt along the way.

Key points will include:

  • Early design is key
  • Co-ordination with client is vital to avoid late changes
  • Procurement needs to happen in good time
  • Advice from manufacturers is key
  • The supply chain/ sub-contractors must be fully engaged in BIM to enable coordination
  • Design responsibilities must be detailed to enable BIM to be productive and create the best outputs
  • The entire team needs a clear understanding of design on a modular basis – repetition is fundamental to success
  • Avoid going into manufacture too early – resolution of complex areas ahead of manufacture will save much more time and money than an early start
  • Conclude client engagement before production wherever possible


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