TateHindle Architects


Institute of Physics

Institute of Physics (IOP) Download Experience Brochure

The new headquarters for the Institute of Physics (IOP) is a highly sustainable building which acts as a ‘living lab’ to showcase physics and innovative technology. The building is designed to house the IOP’s membership activities, support its ambition to engage different communities, and make physics more accessible to a wider audience.

For the first time in its history, the IOP has a public building to provide education and exhibition facilities alongside a London office, an Accelerator Centre for start-ups, lecture theatre, and members’ room. Relocating from Portland Place to King’s Cross, IOP’s new home sits within the Knowledge Quarter, linking to a burgeoning community of educational, research and cultural institutions clustered within the hub’s one-mile radius.

A ‘shopfront’ to the IOP's activities

Located at the southern end of Caledonian Road and straddling Balfe Street, the new building is in a conservation area characterised by Victorian and post-war terraces. Replacing vacant shops, it respects both the commercial and residential character of the neighbourhood. Rebuilt behind two retained brick facades with an entrance bay inserted to create a visual slot through, a new 5-storey building features floor-to-ceiling windows along Caledonian Road to act as a ‘shopfront’ to the IOP's activities and provide views of the exposed visual concrete interior.

A light and welcoming reception showcases physics and technology, engaging visitors from the outset. An Accelerator Centre housed at ground level provides workspaces for affordable rent, supporting businesses that are bringing physics-based innovation to market.

Designed for interaction, flexibility and connectivity

Facilities are arranged around a north-facing atrium, a focal point that brings daylight to all floors and provides visual connectivity. Open-plan offices are situated on mid-floors, while a suite of seminar rooms and a council chamber are located on a publicly accessible upper floor. All are designed to be flexible and can be reconfigured according to need. On the lower ground floor, the oak-clad atrium houses a gallery space for exhibitions, events and community activities, and a lecture theatre which can be transformed into one expansive area by opening the floor-to-soffit folding walls. This enables a diverse range of events to take place, bringing the institute’s staff, members and community together in a new cultural venue within the Knowledge Quarter. The lecture theatre, which can be arranged as a large room seating up to 160 or reconfigured into two smaller spaces, features an 11m-wide motorised projection screen, one of the largest in the UK to be installed into a non-theatrical setting.

An integrated approach to sustainability

An integrated approach to sustainability includes the use of bore hole cooling piles, PVs, blue and green roofs, and natural and mixed mode ventilation. Perforated zinc-clad ‘chimneys’ are a distinctive feature and form the respiratory system of the new headquarters. A playful yet functional take on traditional chimney stacks which expel exhaust from the inside, these ‘chimneys’ instead draw fresh air into the building.

A significant innovation as part of the energy strategy was the installation of GeoKOAX geo-thermal heat pumps to minimise drilling depth, ease pressure on a constrained site and increase the efficiency of the heating and cooling system. This is the first time this technology has been used in the UK and on a tight central London site at less than half the depth of conventional systems.

A Building Management System has been developed to monitor energy use, allowing the IOP to manage the building’s impact on the environment and provide analysis to help inform future building design.

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