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Sheppard Robson at 'Science Cities' this month

Above: The £1 billion advanced manufacturing and life sciences MIX Manchester unveiled: image courtesy of Sheppard Robson

Future Cities Forum is delighted to welcome Eugene Sayers, Partner, Sheppard Robson to our 'Science Cities' forum at Jesus College, Oxford, this month alongside Oxford University Development, ARC Group and BioMed Realty. He has over twenty years experience designing buildings in the science and education sector.

Future Cities Forum will be discussing the growth of science development in the Oxford city region along with investment in connected housing for talent attraction and retention.

Sheppard Robson's latest news release on science development is the MIX Manchester Masterplan which envisions a new science, manufacturing, and innovation campus for South Manchester. Sheppard Robson explains:

'The 24-hectare masterplan will accommodate a range of tenants, from small-scale research & development companies to large-scale advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and mid-tech occupiers. The flexible framework - with a long-life, loose-fit approach - provides a scaled expansion to meet the changing needs of individual tenants and the evolving demands of the advanced materials, life sciences, digital and technology economies.

'The masterplan focuses on a series of neighbourhood blocks and a centralised pedestrianised town square, providing clusters of activity at a local level, allowing the site to develop sequentially over several phases. By integrating hotels, shared amenities and F&B/leisure facilities into these neighbourhoods, we have created active frontages and vibrant, people-focused spaces that encourage community and foster a sense of identity for tenants.

'A hierarchy of movement puts sustainable modes of transport at the heart of the site, with vehicular access and servicing infrastructure to the perimeter of the neighbourhood blocks.

'Our integrated approach to the public realm, landscape and placemaking provides structure to the masterplan, linking the neighbourhood blocks and providing a network of connections that promote interaction, communication and collaboration.'

Eugene joined our 'Science Cities' forum at St Anne's College, Oxford in 2022, discussing the need to take heed of future foreign competition and think carefully about the way we design our science buildings and campuses in the UK:

'It is a balance of pragmatic decisions that have to be taken when designing good science buildings and taking into account the requirement for sustainability. Science buildings are energy-hungry, and every site is different. But we must take action to retain talent. Historically there has been a lack of lab space in Oxford and no one wants to be left with just a bad building, that's perhaps damp and does not fulfil its net zero requirements.

'Scientists really do care about the buildings they work in. You used to hear clients in the past saying that design didn't matter but you hear much less of that these days and health and wellbeing facilities are important on site. There has been a great deal of work carried out to make sure that things like good air quality and acoustics are thought about in designing new buildings and the importance of that shouldn't be written off.

'We need a proper eco system - a rounded view - and we have been slightly careless bout how our science centres have happened. We have excellent universities and research facilities built up through the Blair years and they are very successful - the combination of hospital, university and town has worked well. But as a nation, we do not spend enough on R&D and other countries are saying that they notice how good the UK is for science, so they want to do the same. So, we do need to keep investing, focus on how to maintain our centres and keep them flourishing.'


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