The Challenge:

We were asked to to produce a first-class building that would house some of the finest scientists of our generation.

The brief was to create a high quality, monolithic exposed concrete structure, both internally and externally, necessitated an insitu concrete solution that was subject to meticulous detailing and co-ordination.

We also needed to ensure that a complex laboratory building, by its very nature highly-serviced and energy-hungry, could achieve the required BREEAM Excellent rating. 10% on-site renewable energy generation was also stipulated by the local authority when granting planning permission.

The Solution:

A comprehensive use of prototypes, mock-ups and samples helped to communicate and agree quality and workmanship aspirations between the entire team. Offsite checks and quality records were used to monitor and maintain standards throughout manufacture and installation. This greatly contributed to achieving a number of complex design elements including high-quality concrete finish throughout, resin floors, internal glazed screens, exposed concrete soffits and extensive specialist joinery elements.

The clean aesthetics of the building are complimented in a number of ways; services are concealed within concrete or behind feature finishes and acoustic panelling is also hidden from view.

The inclusion of 1,000 photovoltaic panels and photocell-controlled electric lighting helped achieve our overall sustainability objectives. The building fabric itself is part of the energy minimisation strategy. The exposed concrete frame acts as a heat sink keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The Impact:

The completed facility was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth II. It houses laboratory and write up spaces, meeting rooms, offices, back of house areas and specialist-controlled temperature rooms for 120 scientists and associated support staff.

A multifaceted design in terms of structural complexity, intricate interfaces and architectural detailing. The project achieved an outstanding quality finish on time and to budget. The facility has been internationally recognised, winning the RIBA Stirling Prize 2012, the World’s Best Learning Building at the World Architecture Awards 2011 and the Concrete Society Awards 2011, to name but a few.

The laboratory scored 100% as an overall assessment of the client’s satisfaction with the completed project.

" The project seems simple, and this hides the fact that it was a hugely difficult building to achieve… The building uses fine materials expertly detailed; (its) profound sustainability is impressive, not only in terms of its excellent energy performance but also in terms of its long-term flexibility and adaptability. "
RIBA Stirling Prize Judges

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