The offices will house the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project team that will oversee the development of the new £1.2bn SKA radio telescope, which will be located in South Africa or Australia.
Capita Symonds is providing technical consultancy services on the project on behalf of the University of Manchester.
Designed by architects Fielden Clegg Bradley, the new offices will house approximately 60 staff and will be set in the grounds of the existing Lovell Telescope near Holmes Chapel in Cheshire.
The SKA will be a revolutionary radio telescope made of thousands of receivers linked together across an area the size of a continent. The total collecting area of all the SKA receivers combined will be approximately one square kilometre, making the SKA the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever built.
Radio telescopes detect radio-frequency signals from space. They provide alternative views of the universe to those seen with optical telescopes and can reveal areas of space that may be obscured with cosmic dust.
The SKA will cover the radio frequency range 70 MHz – 10 GHz, giving astronomers an insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the ‘Big Bang’; the role of cosmic magnetism; the nature of gravity; and possibly life beyond Earth.
Two locations are under consideration: Southern Africa and Australia/New Zealand. The final site decision will be made later this year and will be based on several factors including the operating and infrastructure costs, as well as levels of radio interference.