UCB Pharma R&D Campus, Surrey, UK

The development of a new research and development centre for global pharmaceutical company UCB, relocating its ‘early discovery’ facilities from Slough to a 19-hectare campus in Surrey.

Works include extensive refurbishment and remodelling of the existing manor house and buildings, and a new three-story timber building, which replaces an existing building wing. The central new 2,870 m2 collaboration hub will connect at lower ground level to other buildings in the complex. This will transform access to laboratories, create new collaborative workspace, and enable the organisation to come together in one campus.

Heatherwick Studio is the design lead. They work closely with Veretec, who are responsible for design delivery and appointment of most other sub-consultants.

Image Credits: Heatherwick Studio

Plan A’s Key Responsibilities

  • Prepared a design management strategy to ensure the factors for project success were agreed, communicated to all members of the architectural and engineering teams, and monitored as the project unfolded. Design programmes and route maps for each phase of the project.
  • Highlighted the risks of late appointment of sub-consultants to the architect and client, identifying the associated challenges these posed to design team coordination and programme.
  • Ensured clear lines of communication between members of the architectural team, which helped them to work efficiently together within the tight programme.
  • We worked with Veretec and Heatherwick Studio to create a design responsibility matrix confirming scope splits among the teams, and establish a realistic schedule of deliverables to meet objectives in line with client requirements
  • Monthly progress reports and weekly dashboards.
  • Design management documentation including requests for information, design issues trackers and change management.
  • Advice on the structure and content of end of RIBA stage design reports.



  • Project: UCB Pharma R&D Campus, Surrey, UK

  • Sector: Life Sciences

  • Architect (general planner): Veretec

  • Architect (design lead): Heatherwick Studio

  • Client: UCB

  • Structural Engineering: AKT II

  • Mechanical Engineering: Arup

  • Size: 40,500 m2

  • Plan A Appointed: RIBA Stage 0/1 - RIBA Stage 4

We’ve been really impressed by Plan A’s design management services; they helped us to co-ordinate the team, the client, and the day-to-day management tasks on Project Apple so we were able to focus on delivering a design that meets our client's needs.

Lisa Finlay, Partner and Group Leader, Heatherwick Studio
Process News