The David Attenborough Building

The David Attenborough Building is home to the CCI Conservation Campus.

Sophie Busch

The David Attenborough Building lies in the centre of Cambridge and was opened in 2015 following an ambitious redevelopment project led by CCI. The ‘biophilic’ design put nature and sustainability at the heart of project, transforming an old University building (formerly known as the Arup Building) into a vibrant hub for global conservation. It was named in recognition of Sir David’s pioneering work in bringing the wonders of the natural world to a global audience.

Opened by Sir David himself, the David Attenborough Building brings together much of the Cambridge-based conservation community on a ‘conservation campus’. By sharing a work space in this way, the CCI partners strengthened their individual potential to effect change on the ground through collective action.

As well as the CCI Conservation Campus, the David Attenborough Building is also home to the University of Cambridge’s 450-seat Charles Babbage Lecture Theatre, the Whale cafe and the amazing Museum of Zoology, with over 3 million specimens.

Visiting: To get to the CCI main reception, enter the site through the Pembroke Arch on Downing Street and continue straight past the Museum of Zoology. There is lift access opposite the bike racks. Contact us for more information.

The CCI Conservation Campus

The Campus provides a vibrant working environment for around 500 individuals; 150 academics and 350 from CCI’s conservation organisation partners. It offers a host of features designed to enable collaborations including space for temporary use by visiting collaborators/scholars/partners and shared facilities, such as the A.G. Leventis Library, shared meeting rooms, kitchens and communal spaces for networking and socialising.

By working together in the same building, CCI partners are delivering a step-change in:

  • Collaborative working between researchers, policy makers and practitioners
  • Convening and communication opportunities and abilities
  • Cross-cutting and interdisciplinary translational research
  • Information sharing, knowledge transfer and worldwide networking
  • Innovation, entrepreneurship and novel approaches
  • Efficiency of resource use and cost savings
  • Leadership training and capacity development
  • Decision support for the public, private and voluntary sectors
  • Public understanding of, and engagement in, conservation

Sustainability at the Heart

The André Hoffman Atrium is home to the four-storey tall living green wall, featuring biodiverse rich vegetation, provides a compelling visual focus around which people move and interact as part of their daily routines.

From the start of the project, ensuring the David Attenborough Building was as ‘green’ a building as possible was at the heart of this refurbishment. A consultation process at the outset with the future tenants, the architects and the sustainability engineers resulted in the development of a bespoke sustainability framework, with targets across 10 themes, including: biodiversity and ecology; energy and carbon; health and wellbeing; transport and mobility; waste and water.

Headline sustainability features of the refurbished building include:

  • A large biodiverse green roof to promote urban biodiversity
  • Greatly improved thermal comfort achieved through internal insulation
  • New double glazing and an efficient ventilation system that maximises natural ventilation
  • A low carbon heat supply from a combined heat and power system
  • Rooftop electricity generation from solar photovoltaics
  • A metering infrastructure to facilitate competitive energy and water monitoring throughout the building
  • Installation of swift nest boxes in the East Tower (with live webcams!)

CCI Arts programme

CCI highly values the role of the arts in creating positive change for nature. This ethos is embedded within the David Attenborough Building and CCI periodically curates new exhibitions, many of which are open to the public.

CCI Arts

David Attenborough Building Design Awards

David Attenborough Building wins RIBA National Award

CCI is delighted that the David Attenborough Building is one of the winners of the RIBA National Awards

David Attenborough Building wins Architects’ Journal Retrofit Award

The David Attenborough Building, home to the CCI Conservation Campus, has been awarded the Best Office category in the 2017 Architects’ Journal Retrofit Awards.

David Attenborough Building success at the Cambridge Design and Construction Awards

The David Attenborough Building has won two major awards at the Cambridge Design & Construction Awards. The Engineering & Sustainability Project of the Year Award recognised both the inventive design and the bespoke environmental assessment method that was devised to match the project’s ambitious sustainability agenda.

The future of our life on Earth is dependent on the natural world – for the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we use – and for the feelings we have of awe and wonder at nature’s extraordinary riches. In this remarkable age we are learning more and more about the intricacies of our dependence on nature. Yet our natural world is threatened as never before. The threats are both numerous and interrelated, and no one institution, however effective, can hope to address them all alone.”

“It is for this reason that the work of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is so exceptional. By bringing together leaders in research, practice, policy and teaching, we stand the greatest chance of developing the solutions required to save our planet. I am enormously proud that these collaborations are occurring in a building bearing my name.

Sir David Attenborough, CCI Patron

03 APRIL, 2016: The David Attenborough Building, in the centre of Cambridge, UK, is a hub for global biodiversity conservation, designed to catalyse the development of collaborative, innovative, and multi-disciplinary solutions to global biodiversity problems. Over 500 practitioners from nine conservation organisations and academics from departments from the University of Cambridge – all partners of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative – work in the building. Originally built for the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy and the University’s Museum of Zoology, who still occupy part of the building, in the 1970s, the building underwent a significant refurbishment between 2013-2015.  (Toby Smith/CCI)


Generous donations from a number of Foundations have made the refurbishment possible. These include the MAVA Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation.