Having made his name with the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Lloyd’s building, Richard Rogers – who turns 80 today – was commissioned in 1980 to design the Inmos microprocessor factory in Newport, Wales. The factory’s design was targeted for the delicate process of microchip assembly, which requires a clean and controlled space. Built at the time of the computer-chip boom, construction had to be completed within one year, a factor which would greatly influence the design.
Rogers’s response, based on his previous high-tech designs, was to move the services to the outside of the building and split the interior into ‘clean’ spaces for microchip assembly and ‘dirty’ spaces for other tasks. Moreover, Rogers opted for an off-site prefabrication of parts, which not only increased the speed of construction, but would also allow for the factory to be easily replicated as a model.