Colin Forbes Building, UK

Cambridge, UK
Cowper Griffith Architects
RG Carter

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge Museums. Nearly 2 million fossils were disseminated through different buildings and now the time has arrived to reunite all the collection under the same roof – or behind the same façade.

Cowper Griffith Architects had the difficult task of designing a new structure which could represent and blend with the exposition inside. “Natural slate, a material that is formed beneath the earth over millions of years was chosen to reflect the fossils and rock samples housed inside the building”, explains Alice Milligan, architect.

The new modern space was also named after Dr Colin Forbes, a senior figure in the University’s Department of Earth Sciences. Many of the fossils are quite sensitive and recreating the necessary conditions inside was even more important than the external aesthetics.

colin forbes sedgwick museum
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge Museums

To create a stable environment within the building it was important to choose a system with a dependable and verified performance, especially with regard to waterproofing. While we had looked at other approaches to creating this look for the exterior, the proven performance of the CUPACLAD made the decision simple”, remembers Alice Milligan.

CUPACLAD 101 Random was the final choice because of its playful appearance. It consists of slates in sizes 50×15cm, 50×20cm and 50×25cm and was installed in three different planes separated by floor-to-ceiling windows which allows the entry of the right amount of natural light.

Those areas presented major technical challenges during the construction. “Here it was important to maintain the uniformity of the lines in the slate ‘layers’ and the CUPA PIZARRAS system made this simple”, assures Steven Duke, Project Director at RG Carter.

Although we had not used a CUPACLAD system before, it was straightforward to install and we were very pleased with the guidance and technical assistance we received”, recognized Steven Duke. CUPA PIZARRAS’ team of experts is always at your disposal in case you need to solve any difficulties that arise during the project development.

The new museum has received a very warm welcome from all the educational community. “We are delighted with the way in which the slate clad exterior of the building reflects the remarkable geological collections which it houses”, insists Dr Liz Hide, Director of the Sedgwick Museum.

The campus was already an international benchmark and the new museum has added a new prestigious milestone. “We are proud to welcome researchers from around the world to this high-quality building”, summarizes Dr Liz Hide.

slate wall Colin Forbes building


Our CUPACLAD® 101 RANDOM rainscreen cladding system is synonymous with creativity and gives any facade an original design that makes the most of the flexibility and natural durability of our slate.


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