Oxford University – Tinbergen Building
Bidwells LLP employed us to deliver the asbestos removal and demolition services for the first phase of the Tinbergen Redevelopment Project on behalf of The University of Oxford.
The Tinbergen Building, named after the Nobel Prize-winning Nikolaas Tinbergen, was designed by Sir Leslie Martin and opened in 1974.
Technical challenges
As part of the significant redevelopment project, the adjacent Chemistry Teaching Laboratory had to be separated from the Tinbergen building, as well as the the fume and solvent extract plant room.
Our temporary works engineers, Swanton Consulting, designed stability sway braces to the retained chemistry lab as the demolition works separated the two buildings. We worked in collaboration with the university’s structural engineers on the future support of part of the new life sciences building on the chemistry lab roof space.

The existing fume extract flues for the teaching laboratory passed over the Tinbergen building.  In order to prevent any disruption to the teaching lab, we constructed a temporary modular fume extract plant room which would be used during the development, until a permanent plant room was built at a later stage of the project.

The construction of the plant room ran concurrently with the asbestos removal and demolition phases and included the removal and strip out of the existing furnace room and lab space, construction of a new lab and teaching space, installation of pedestrian access, internal steel staircases and the sway braces required for the future phase.

The labs operate under a controlled air pressure regime designed to maintain and separate safe corridor walkways from potentially hazardous events within the labs. The plant room provides the critical air pressure safety regime required for this so the success of the project relied largely on this function.

The Tinbergen Building was located in central Oxford, at the junction of South Parks Road and St Cross Road, OX1 3PS.

It was a 25,000m2 poured and pre-cast concrete building of varying heights ranging up to seven storeys and inclusive of a 1.5 storey basement in areas.  

 In February 2017, the University of Oxford made the difficult decision to vacate the building and plan for the demolition and redevelopment of the site to provide a world-leading facility to match the university’s academic prowess. 

A Certificate of Immunity from listing was granted in December 2017. 

The project involved asbestos removal, demolition, temporary works and construction.
Our experienced asbestos removal team safely and effectively removed all identified asbestos from the building.
Asbestos removal

Robust procedures were in place to react to the discovery of any previously unidentified asbestos.  Decontamination units were set up on site, with clear and compliant transit routes established.


Demolition of the existing building began with the installation of temporary services and scaffold erection to encapsulate the works.   Lift shafts were prepared to act as well holes to facilitate arisings being transported from site.  Crash decks were installed at ground floor.  Once soft strip was completed, a saw cutting method was utilised to separate retained structures from the demolition work.  A top-down method was used from the roof down to ground level.  The demolition phase also involved the installation of temporary works, weather proofi­ng and the removal of all arisings from site using our own FORS Gold accredited vehicles.

Community liaison

Due to the project’s prestigious location, it was of the utmost importance to foster good relations with all parties who would be affected by our works. To ensure transparency and effective communication, we regularly published informative newsletters, established site hoardings with project contact details, and regularly liaised with the client to inform them on the progress of works and address any questions they had. 

Summary of service 
Asbestos removal
Temporary works