Project: Sleeping Vessel NEB

Project for the Headquarters of New England Biolabs, Massachusetts USA (2001)
280 Scientific work areas 9300 m2
Wet lab area
Scientists office area
Lab support spaces
Mechanical spaces
Central dishware-media prep. area 420 m2
Fermentation laboratories 450 m2
Shipping area and packaging equipment 1150 m2
Lecture room 350 m2
Facilities department, offices, shop, storage 450 m2
Winter garden for tropical plants 1000 m2
Main corridors, stairs, elevator, mech. toilets, employee lounges 1000 m2
Parking area 180 cars
Total new building area 14120 m2
Design team: marcosandmarjan. With Shao Ming, Hui Hui Teoh, Shie-Wei Pan, Orlando de Jesus.

The new NEB headquarters present itself as a clinical vessel that stretches out a massive surface from the feet of the Main Mansion on the site.
The building submerges its immense volume into the topography, letting its inhabitable roof (dis)appear as a deep-dimensional screen. The winter garden surrounds the interior lab areas with a double layered transparent membrane creating an enigmatic (rather intriguing) green façade that invites to engagement and investigation. While the manufacture-laboratories are hidden underneath the earth, the location of the offices allows each scientist to sit in the roof in tiny capsules that ‘touch the big sky’. 

The table concept:
The idea of a table suggests that the internal distribution is organised in roof, cones, and in-between spaces. The roof embeds all office areas for scientists to contemplate the surrounding landscape.  Underneath, the lab-cones function as the structural skeleton integrating laboratory spaces of variable size. The resulting in-between spaces are used for circulation areas, resting zones and diverse support equipment. 

The ‘inlucent’ resin mass plays host to all major appliances and blurs variable intensities of light to the enclosed lab areas underneath. The resin surface, and a variety of incorporated photo-chromatic chemicals provoke a ‘soft perception’ of space. Performance specification of the skin varies continuously from properties of a rigid structure, opaque surface to those of a flexible, transparent membrane.

In parallel, aspects of 2&½D convolution have triggered the design of the Sleeping Vessel, the new Biolabs headquarters. The project is conceived as a massive translucent 2&½D screen that rests in the topography. Typologically the building is based on the Windows operative system that overlaps various windows, or layers of different software packages. The building convolutes a series of functional layers, which are connected by a vertical cone-system and circulation system. Similarly to windows that open up to other programs or commands, these cones allow the scientist to cross the layers and multitask between the building’s functions.