New home for ECMWF on University of Reading campus agreed
06 December 2021
The University of Reading campus is set to become home to the largest cluster of weather and climate scientists in the world, following agreement to build a new state-of-the-art headquarters for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) at the University of Reading's Whiteknights campus.
The plans to move the headquarters of ECMWF, currently located around a mile away on Shinfield Road, Reading, to a new facility adjacent to the University's Department of Meteorology on the Whiteknights campus, were agreed at a meeting of the ECMWF's governing council last week.
The new building will create a modern, inspirational and energy-efficient home for ECMWF's headquarters and for its forecasting, research and training functions.
Together with the University's Department of Meteorology, and parts of the UK Met Office, NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences and NERC National Centre for Earth Observation, all currently located with the Department of Meteorology, this will create the largest cluster of weather and climate research and operational forecasting in the world.
UK Science Minister George Freeman said: "UK scientists in the British Antarctic Survey discovered the hole in the ozone layer and we are now leading in the science of climate mitigation. We want the UK to lead in climate research and are proud to continue to host the ECMWF headquarters at the University of Reading. By investing in this crucial cluster, we are using UK science for global good to understand our climate and help us build back better from the pandemic.
"The UK and the ECMWF have worked hand in hand for well over four decades and we look forward to continuing our work with them at the highest levels of weather and climate science."
Dr Florence Rabier, Director-General of ECMWF, said: "This is a very positive result for ECMWF, paving the way for a new headquarters building with sustainability at its core. We are grateful to the UK Government and the University of Reading for their thoughtful and thorough proposal and to all of our Member States for their support in approving it."
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: "ECMWF and the University have worked closely together on cutting-edge science for decades, and have become known as leading institutions in the fields of weather and climate.
"I am thrilled that, through agreement between the UK Government and ECMWF, we will be able to build on this success at a time when a greater scientific understanding of the Earth's changing weather and its impacts is more important than ever."
The new headquarters for ECMWF will be fully funded by the UK Government through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Subject to planning, the international headquarters building will have a prominent location at the Earley Gate entrance to the Whiteknights campus. Its weather-inspired facade will be flanked by flags representing the member nations of the ECMWF Council. It will sit in a landscaped setting reflecting the parkland ethos of the University campus, with a design that takes inspiration from the nature of ECMWF research and operations.
Key internal features, such as the weather room, council chamber and atrium staircases, will reflect further themes around weather forecasting and environmental science.
The site of the building is currently home to the Reading School of Art, which will move into new space in and near the Polly Vacher Building with new specialist workshops, studio and gallery spaces, and offices.