Open University – Jennie Lee Building

The Jennie Lee Building, a major new building at The Open University’s (OU) Walton Hall campus at Milton Keynes was completed in March 2008. A partnering team made up of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects (SHCA), Galliford Try Construction, Buro Happold (concept) and S I Sealy (detailed mechanical design) succesfully delivered the building, which houses the Faculties of Maths and Computing and the Institute of Educational Technology. The building has 5000m2 over three floors, an atrium and a 600m2 state of the art Ambient Technology Lab.

A key element of the brief required a focused community environment encouraging departmental interaction for free flowing ideas and academic cross fertilisation.

A second key element was also an illustration of educational enhancement. The whole building was to be a lab of human and technological interaction, a live ambient experiment, facilitating and inspiring learning and research.

A third issue, a mutual passion, was sustainability. It is naturally ventilated throughout, by sing sided perimeter openings in the clusters and draws cooled fresh air via a concrete under croft (labyrinth) to both the cellular Honeycomb and the Nexus, utilising the atrium’s natural stack effect. The facade has only 35% transparency, balancing insulation and daylight. It uses night time cooling and rainwater harvesting.


  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Passive solar gain
  • Induced natural ventilation (mixed mode)
  • Maximises daylight
  • Free cooling/heating labyrinth
  • Chiller heat recovery
  • Daylight dimming lighting
  • BMS user interface
  • Atrium heat recovery