Tinbergen Building update | University of Oxford

Tinbergen Building update

Update following the closure of the Tinbergen Building

Latest news (18/7/17)

Following the closure of the Tinbergen Building in February, a University-wide steering group was asked to explore options for the building and recommend a long-term solution.

The group – chaired by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt FRS – unanimously recommended the demolition and replacement of the Tinbergen Building with a new facility. This recommendation – based on academic, strategic and financial criteria – will now be considered under the University’s established governance procedures.

Support for the creation of a new home for Experimental Psychology and Zoology on a redeveloped Tinbergen site is a strong expression of the University’s commitment to sustain two world-class departments through this challenging time.

In the meantime, Oxford City Council’s planning committee has resolved to approve planning applications for modular buildings at both the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) and University Club sports field sites.

The University will now start to prepare the sites and work with Portakabin to put the buildings in place. The University Club sports field site will accommodate two sets of buildings, one housing specialist teaching laboratories for Biological Sciences and Biochemistry; and the second for research and administration for the Department of Zoology. The sports field facilities will be reinstated once the modular builds have been removed.

One two-storey modular building will go on the Walton Street side of the ROQ site and will house research and administration for the Department of Experimental Psychology (EP).

Latest news (10/3/17)

IT Services have provided specific information about Chorus (the University’s telephone service) tailored for relocations from the Tinbergen Building for both end-users and administration staff.

Latest news (2/3/17)

A follow-up question-and-answer session for those affected by the closure of the Tinbergen Building was held at the Sheldonian Theatre on Tuesday 28 February 2017 from 1.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. A transcript is now available.

Here is the latest Information for staff granted permission to access the building to remove items:

  • It is important to note that offices are not contaminated, but localised asbestos debris has been identified in some office radiator housings, some which could potentially be disturbed.
  • Immediate precautions were taken to prevent any possible disturbance, by boxing in or sheeting up around the radiators, but we now have an obligation to remove the debris in a timely fashion.
  • You may have noticed that air monitoring was conducted in the course of the survey work which identified the asbestos. These air tests were conducted in accordance with relevant legislation and its associated guidance, to provide reassurance, and all air test results have been satisfactory.
  • Any localised asbestos removals in offices will require a 14 day notification period and be operationally challenging and extremely disruptive to building users, therefore it was decided to relocate you and to undertake this cleaning in conjunction with the larger asbestos removal project which was planned and which was also going to require a significant decant.
  • It is perfectly safe to remove PCs, drawer contents and other personal belongings as you prepare for the bigger ‘move’.
  • In a limited number of cases some further sheeting up is required before contents can be removed. This is an additional precaution to prevent potential disturbance. Sensible precautions should be taken not to damage the sheeting.
  • Once again it was good practice to conduct air monitoring while the work was being done, and all tests undertaken have been satisfactory.
  • The University is providing additional resources to help with the relocation. The move itself will be undertaken by a commercial company, but obviously it would be helpful if you could take the opportunity to rationalise if you can.
  • Your books, files and other research materials are perfectly safe to move.
  • The removal company will not be moving large items of office furniture or heavy filing cabinets and book cases, so your files, books, etc, will have to be crated up. Suitable storage and office furniture will be re-provided in your new locations. The removal company can do all the packing for you, unless there are things that you feel you need to pack yourself. If this is the case then please make your building managers aware.
  • More information will be forthcoming about the timing of the removals as plans begin to mature.

Latest news (22/2/17)

A follow-up question-and-answer session for those affected by the closure of the Tinbergen Building will take place at the Sheldonian Theatre on Tuesday 28 February 2017 from 1.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. This session will again be hosted by Professor Ben Sheldon (Head of Zoology) and Professor Kia Nobre (Head of Experimental Psychology). The University will ensure that colleagues who are unable to attend have online access to a stenographer's transcript of the discussion. This will be made available on the Staff Gateway as soon as possible after the meeting. Members of staff, PGR students, OUSU and UG course representatives are encouraged to attend.

Latest news (20/2/17)

The University has prepared some answers to Frequently Asked Questions (sign-in is required) which may be asked by staff and students who work in, or who regularly use, the Tinbergen Building. That page also contains the transcription of the meeting at the Sheldonian Theatre which was attended by staff and students last Wednesday.

Latest news (16/2/17)

  1. Thank you to the many hundreds of colleagues who attended yesterday afternoon’s question-and-answer session for staff and students at the Sheldonian Theatre. This was introduced by the Vice-Chancellor, and led by the Registrar, Professor Ewan McKendrick, the Head of Experimental Psychology Professor Kia Nobre and Head of Zoology Professor Ben Sheldon. The University made arrangements to ensure that those who were unable to come along could have swift access to a full account of this discussion.
  2. Colleagues will be aware that the Tinbergen Building closed on Monday February 13th 2017, but there has been some limited, managed access to the building since then. A decision to allow this access in exceptional circumstances rests with the Head of Zoology or Head of Experimental Psychology. Anyone granted written permission to enter the Tinbergen Building will also be provided with clear and helpful guidelines to follow.

Latest news (14/2/17)

  1. There is a question-and-answer session tomorrow, Wednesday 15th, from 12:00 to 13:00 at the Sheldonian for staff and DPhil students, where heads of department and University representatives can update you on the latest developments. Please come if you can. A brown bag lunch will be provided.
  2. A huge effort is underway across the University to deal with the problems caused by the closure of the Tinbergen. Divisions, Departments and Colleges, as well as Oxford Brookes and the NHS Trust, are looking at what they can do to help with research and teaching space. The number of people involved and the close relationship between laboratory work, offices and teaching make this a complex endeavour so it may take a little time to resolve. We will update you as soon as there is more news.
  3. The two heads of department, and key administrative staff from Zoology and Experimental Psychology, have moved into 15 Parks Road to create an interim operational "hub".
  4. Teaching is continuing in Zoology and Experimental Psychology, and no lectures have been cancelled. Practicals have been disrupted, and a very determined effort is underway to resolve the problems this is causing.
  5. The University is in touch with major funding bodies so that they are aware of the situation in the Tinbergen, and up to date with our efforts to resolve it.
  6. Teams from HR are working with each department on issues as they arise, and investigating redeployment opportunities for support staff. Every effort is being made to limit the impact upon support staff at this stage, and in the longer term.
  7. Our advice on health and safety remains unchanged: the University had to act when asbestos was discovered in areas of the Tinbergen where it had not previously been found, but we do not believe there is any risk to health to ordinary users of the building, and all the air quality monitoring which has been carried out supports this.

Original announcement (11/2/17)

The University has announced the closure of the Tinbergen Building due to the presence of asbestos in certain parts of the building.  We immediately want to reassure staff, students and members of the public who visit the building that we do not believe there is, or has been, a health risk to ordinary users of the building, and more than 200 air quality readings taken since September 2016 support this.  The building needs to be vacated for necessary work to be carried out.  We do not expect it to reopen for around two years and it will be closed to users and visitors from Monday February 13th.

The University is now working to minimise disruption to all staff and students and especially those from the Department of Experimental Psychology, the Department of Zoology and the Department of Biochemistry. The institution is liaising with colleagues across Oxford to identify alternative accommodation, resources and logistical solutions. Departments and Divisions affected will be in direct contact with students and staff.

Updates will be posted here, and more detailed guidance will be provided on Divisional and Departmental webpages in the period ahead.