Planning permission received for General Fusion at Culham Science Centre by AL_A

General Fusion’s fusion demonstration facility at Culham Science Centre in South Oxfordshire, UK, has passed a major milestone with the South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee resolving to grant planning permission.

Members of the Planning Committee gave the green light for the UKAEA / General Fusion project which is a pivotal step in the development of fusion energy. Construction work will start this year.
The fusion demonstration facility has been developed to a complex technical brief by AL_A in collaboration with General Fusion, Hatch and Arup.

Image © AL_A

The building form is a direct reflection of the processes and equipment it will house. Conceived as an extension of the fusion machine, the radial arrangement provides maximum operational efficiency. Transparency makes the fusion endeavour visible to all, creating an active, connected workplace.

The 38m high fusion hall which houses General Fusion’s magnetised target fusion machine, sits at the centre of the facility. A delicate, translucent fabric wraps around the cylindrical, concrete fusion hall, designed to soften the building’s appearance, and optimise natural ventilation.

Image © AL_A

Daylit, naturally ventilated office spaces, workshops and laboratories are arranged in a loop around the fusion hall, allowing views into fusion and out onto nature. The building sits within a generous, biodiverse landscape emphasizing a shift towards a symbiotic relationship between environment and industry.

The project will achieve BREEAM excellent accreditation. Smart strategies include using waste heat from the fusion process to heat the building, natural ventilation to minimise cooling loads, a large green roof, and extensive PVs.

Image © AL_A

“AL_A has designed a building that is exceptionally functional and beautiful. Their approach demonstrates how architecture can cohesively integrate fusion energy infrastructure into society. We can’t wait to kick-off construction this year and anticipate commissioning our fusion machine in 2026 with full operations starting early the following year”, says Greg Twinney, CEO, General Fusion.

“Receiving planning permission is a huge milestone and testament to the close collaboration between the team, General Fusion and UKAEA. The building will not only be highly efficient but one that expresses the technological optimism of fusion to solve the energy problems of the world.

Image © AL_A

The design projects a confident message to the public about the extraordinary potential of this technology. It represents a clear shift in the relationship between environment and industry, moving from one of opposition to one of symbiosis” says Amanda Levete, founder and principal AL_A.

Fusion energy has the potential to provide the planet with abundant low-carbon energy. It represents one of the world’s best opportunities to combat climate change. UKAEA’s Culham campus and its fusion cluster has been a longstanding leader in fusion energy development.

Image © AL_A

Built to 70% scale of a commercial power plant, the 10,500m2 demonstration project will create fusion conditions in a power plant-relevant environment, achieving temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius.

This is a crucial step on the path to powering homes, businesses and industry with zero-carbon fusion energy. Source and images Courtesy of AL_A.

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