A new “Life and Mind Building”, which will be funded and delivered in partnership with Legal and General, is to become home to the University of Oxford Departments of Experimental Psychology and Biology (combining Zoology and Plant Sciences).

It will be constructed where the old building housing the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Zoology, the Tinbergen building, was located on the corner of South Parks Road and St Cross Road. The Tinbergen was closed and subsequently torn down due to the presence of significant amounts of asbestos in 2017. 

The building was unanimously approved by Oxford City Council’s West Area Planning Committee, and will be 5 stories high with a below-ground basement, as well as having greenhouses on the roof. It will be the “largest building the university has ever undertaken” according to a letter from Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr David Prout to Oxford City Council, and will provide research facilities for 800 students and 1,200 researchers.

There will be a new open public space with seating areas, alongside an “amphitheatre” area giving access to the basement, at the building site. There are also plans for a publicly-accessible cafe on the ground floor.

Whilst in favour of the construction of this new building, some councillors had reservations about the building’s height, and the potential for increased traffic on nearby roads. However, a report by planning officers did not raise concerns about the height, nor did Oxfordshire County Council raise concerns about traffic.

This project is a step forward that Anna Strongman, chief executive of Oxford University Development, is “extremely proud to be bringing forward…in the wake of Covid-19”, with the Life and Mind building being Oxford University Development Ltd’s (OUD) first building project. OUD was created due to the new partnership between the University of Oxford and Legal & General plc that was announced in June 2019, aiming to address the high costs of accommodation for staff and students and develop innovation districts. 

The Life and Mind building will be “a modern, state-of-the-art facility that helps continue the University of Oxford’s legacy as one of the world’s most pre-eminent teaching institutions”, says Strongman. It will also be one of the two sites in which the new INEOS Oxford Institute for research into bacterial resistance to antibiotics will be based, with the other being the Department of Chemistry.

Construction is due to get underway in June of this year.

Image credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash