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£45m data institute plan sets sail
A BOAT-LIKE prow will be the centrepiece of a new university development, plans have revealed.
The £45m Big Data Institute in Headington will see workers analyse large sets of patient data, to improve understanding of diseases and treatments.
But plans for the Oxford University building have proven controversial, with the size of the proposed building reduced by almost a quarter following concerns.
Patrick Coulter, of community group Headington Action, said: “The university is trying to be more helpful, but the problem is that when it gets to this stage most of the key decisions have been made.
“We would much prefer a say when they are making the basic assumptions about these buildings. I think we would like to see them engaging with us on the longer term use of the site and perhaps using the opportunity of the neighbourhood plan.”
Following a public consultation, the scale of the building was reduced by 22 per cent and more open spaces created around it.
The building will feature a “prow” like a boat and will be clad in horizontal aluminium bands.
It will also feature a sunken garden area, with a bridge leading over it to the building’s entrance.
In a statement the university said: “The BDI is the second phase of the world’s first centre for the generation, integration and interrogation of large data sets in the life and medical sciences.
“The aim is to digitise different types of data to enable scientists from many different disciplines to begin to understand the relationships between the various data sets at a large scale. If it succeeds in its aims, the understanding, treatment and management of human disease will be dramatically improved.”
Once complete, the building will be part of Oxford University’s Old Road Campus, which is already home to a number of medical research facilities.
This campus is due to be expanded on to the neighbouring seven-acre Park Hospital site which the university bought in 2012.
But while the university has outline planning permission to create 48,000 sq m of research floorspace, there are not yet any firm plans for what the site will be used for.
It is estimated that about 3,000 people would be working at both the Old Road and Park Hospital sites combined.
Several communities in the Headington area are putting together a neighbourhood plan which will give them a say on development in the area.
The Big Data Institute has been funded with a £20m gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which supports healthcare and education schemes.
The architectural firm behind the design is London-based Make which has designed buildings on the Old Road Campus as well as the Copper Box on the London 2012 OIympic Park.
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