Sir David Attenborough opens namesake building

Sir David Attenborough said:

“By bringing together leaders in research, practice, policy and teaching, we stand the greatest chance of developing the solutions required to save our planet. I am enormously proud that these collaborations are occurring in a building bearing my name.”

Sir David Attenborough officially opened the new conservation campus named for him by abseiling down the living wall in the atrium. The building is the new home of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a strategic collaboration between the University of Cambridge and nine biodiversity conservation organisations. The radical remodelling and refurbishment, designed by Nicholas Hare Architects, is a working exploration of how to promote biodiversity and create new habitats in the midst of a busy city.

The living wall is irrigated by rainwater collected from the roof and is shaded by photovoltaic cells set into the rooflight above. A new green roof, which replicates the characteristics of the local Cambridgeshire chalk grassland, is an experimental area where researchers can study the colonisation of the different roof conditions by invertebrates, plants and birds. Sheltered rooftop courtyards contain rain gardens linked to hidden reservoirs below their decked surfaces helping to reduce pressure on the City drainage system. Amongst the planting are bee hotels and bird and bat boxes. The two towers, which rise high above the roof, have roosts for raptors and boxes for bats and swifts. Live feeds from webcams monitoring the habitat areas can be displayed on screens around the building.