A LABORATORY building which was emptied by Oxford University because it contained asbestos is being demolished to make way for a new life sciences hub.

The Tinbergen Building on South Parks Road used to be the largest teaching and research building in the university, until it was closed in 2017 when asbestos was discovered.

It used to house the departments of zoology and experimental psychology, as well as biochemistry labs.

Work has now begun to tear down the building, with a construction firm currently carrying out works approved last year by the city council.

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The site is covered with logos of the construction firm Erith, as is the machinery being used for the works.

According to Erith’s website, the firm specialises in demolition and asbestos removal as well as earthworks and basement construction.

When it was first closed two years ago, about 1,325 people were using the building, including about 600 undergraduate students.

Oxford Mail:

In red: The Tinbergen Building. Picture: Google Maps.

They were moved into temporary buildings to the south of the Tinbergen and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.

Planning permission for the temporary buildings runs out in June 2022 but that could be extended.

Work to dismantle the building is expected to be completed later this year, and the university is expected to soon submit plans for a new life sciences building to replace it, which has provisionally been called the Life and Mind Building.

This new building would combine the university’s zoology and plant sciences departments into a biology department, and would also house experimental psychology.

A letter from pro-vice chancellor Dr David Prout to Oxford City Council said the new Life and Mind Building would be the ‘largest building project the university has even undertaken’.

Oxford Mail:

David Prout. Picture: Jacqueline Cross.

His letter added the new building would ‘significantly improve’ teaching of the sciences at the university.

The Tinbergen Building was designed by the architect Sir Leslie Martin, who is considered to be one of Britain’s most influential post-war architects.

His most-famous building is the Royal Festival Hall at the South Bank Centre in London.

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Another university building named after Sir Leslie stood on nearby St Cross Road until recently, when it was demolished to make way for new Balliol College student accommodation.

The building is named after celebrated Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen.

He taught at Oxford from the late 1940s and was co-awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1973 for work on social behaviour patterns. He died in the city in 1988.

For more information about the planning application, visit the Oxford City Council planning webste oxford.gov.uk/planning and search reference 19/01636/FUL