Biocentrum, Cambridge

A competition to find an architect-led design team to develop a masterplan for the University’s Biocentrum for the School of Biological Sciences.

About the competition

The Cambridge University School of Biological Sciences delivers internationally acclaimed research and teaching but the current Biocentrum accommodation, which is constrained and inflexible, is inhibiting its strategic development.  Over the past decade, this has become ever more concerning as competitor institutions in the UK and overseas are investing heavily in new infrastructure.  Change is required if the School is to remain a world-leader.

A Development Options Appraisal was undertaken by Arup Associates in 2014/15 which established that the School’s existing site can deliver the transformational change that is required to create an interactive campus environment, retaining coherence while providing a more fluid environment than at present. 

Building on this appraisal, the purpose of this competition was to identify an architect-led, cross-disciplinary project team, to produce a masterplan for the site and help realise the future aspirations for the Biocentrum and the strategic objectives of the School of the Biological Sciences.


The competition was won by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The other shortlisted practices were:


This invited competition was formatted as a competitive interview.  No specific designs were requested.

Colander was asked to suggest a long-list of around 20 practices for consideration by the School of Biological Sciences and the University’s Estates Department.  These practices were considered against a set of agreed criteria and six practices were shortlisted to submit a tender against a brief and attend an interview.  

Following interviews, references were taken and the winner was appointed.

Our involvement

  • Designing the right competitive process
  • Researching and identifying potential competitors to invite
  • Helping the client reach its shortlist of invited competitors
  • Planning the competition timetable and budget to meet client requirements
  • Acting as point of contact for the competition
  • Ensuring a clear and ethical process
  • Briefing the jury panel
  • Briefing competitors
  • Managing the competitive process
  • Advising on and then helping to implement the scoring/evaluation procedures
  • Arranging and facilitating interviews and presentations
  • Helping to create an audit trail
  • Debriefing and follow up