Project Description

With an acclaimed biochemistry building constructed in 2008, the University of Oxford appointed main contractor, Laing O’Rourke, to build the £73m phase two expansion of the facility in March 2019.

The institution required extra space for the faculty and the new building would house very specialised equipment.

With respect to a partnership agreement with the University of Oxford spanning 20 years, it was important for Laing O’Rourke to select the right partner for the project.

Project Requirements

Situated at the very centre of the campus, the 13,411 m² scheme came with many logistical challenges; transporting plant machinery and materials, pedestrian access, noise restrictions and ongoing clean-up requirements.

The new biochemistry building needed to be linked to an existing building and therefore tie into the previously-installed system. The new basement, with a 2,000 sqm footprint, required two types of protection to reduce the risk of water ingress; watertight concrete (Type A) and a cavity drainage system (Type C).

With a requirement to waterproof the base slab and adjoining walls too, the whole project totalled 3,800 sqm.

Sika Solution

A complex project which required a raft of technical support, Sika worked closely with Laing O’Rourke to provide a holistic concrete and waterproofing solution.

Following the basement excavation and installation of approximately 123 separate 750mm diameter piles, Sika added watertight concrete on the capping beam.

Concrete fibres were specified for the screed, covering the Sika® HD20 membrane on the slab, to provide reinforcement and prevent cracking. The watertight concrete system was completed using SikaSwell® Hydrophillic Strips to seal the construction joints.

Transportation and delivery of project materials was coordinated to minimise disruption on campus, where hundreds of people were present at all times of the day.


Project Participants

Main Contractor – Laing O’Rouke

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“The scheme at the heart of Oxford University saw us provide on-site support, technical drawings and bespoke fibre calculations in order to support Laing O’Rourke throughout the project. Whilst from the outset it could be perceived as a simple basement waterproofing project, when it’s situated at the epicentre of a bustling campus, the complexities were amplified”

Robert Dennis - UK Business Development Manager at Sika