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'UK Innovation Cities' at Paddington Life Sciences - report part one

The Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan, talking at Future Cities Forum's 'UK Innovation Cities' event.

Future Cities Forum was delighted to be hosted by Paddington Life Sciences for its 'UK Innovation Cities' event in London.

The discussion was held in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust's newly opened and dedicated Digital Collaboration Space, next to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, northwest London.

It houses the digital health team from the NIHR Imperial BRC, which provides state-of-the-art management and analysis of the huge amount of health data routinely collected across Imperial College Healthcare's five hospitals. It collaborates with the wider North West London Integrated Care System on a complementary data set from a diverse population of 2.4 million people.

Imperial College Healthcare launched its vision for a new life sciences cluster in Paddington in September 2022. Paddington Life Sciences aims to maximise local and global benefits of NHS, research, industry and community partnerships centred around St Mary's Hospital. The Digital Collaboration Space is an important part of the vision and its development was supported by a significant contribution from the Imperial Health Charity.

In the first part of our discussion, Paddington Life Sciences, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, LB Hammersmith & Fullham, Scott Brownrigg, British Land and Buro Happold debated the topics of future UK government investment in hospitals and associated new life science campuses, building transport and business connectivity between innovation hubs in the UK, the retrofitting or demolition of older hospital buildings for new life science ventures, place-making for new tech communities on former industrial sites, global competition for occupiers to take up space and sustainable lab design.

The forum discussion began by asking Dr Suki Balendra, Head of Strategic Partnerships for Paddington Life Sciences about the value of the work being carried out at the digital collaboration space at Paddington and how she is looking to grow connections within west London and the rest of the UK:

'We have a unique data set here and this creates a huge opportunity for industry. Part of this has given us work with Microsoft - on the problem of patient discharge from hospital using AI. Patient discharge is a real pinch point for getting patients into the next system. This work has created something really innovative and it is just one example of the opportunities that this data set can create.

Dr Balendra was asked about the importance of collaboration with other life science districts:

'It is very important that we don't work in isolation. We were over at Barts last week and sharing our work with them and they with us. From this we have already created opportunities for collaboration. It is important for us to have a strong connection with Hammersmith Hospital and the White City campus, developing the Imperial West Tech Corridor.'

The recently announced Imperial West Tech Corridor would also link with Old Oak Common and Park Royal transport and development hubs and the Imperial campus at Silwood Park, Ascot

At our Oxford 'Science Cities' forum last September, Dr Balendra, spoke of the importance of connectivity between science cities. This connectivity between Oxford, Reading and London, she said, proves that there is an appetite for science companies to move to Paddington:

'At Paddington of course we are connected to Oxford with the transport lines in and out of the two cities. We are working in the context of the north west London population which numbers some two and a half million people and where there are diverse communities and a huge level of deprivation. From one end of the area to another for instance, a boy's life expectancy changes by 18 years. The hospital, St Mary's is crumbling and at the mercy of national government and as you may know this project for Imperial has been kicked down the track now beyond 2030.

'However we do have approval to build upwards and that will give us a surplus of land to give over to life sciences and mixed use. We realised that we already had a story to tell in Paddington, that we were sitting in a life sciences ecosystem with companies like Vertex, Takeda and IQVIA and also a lot of data companies like Oracle and Microsoft. We wanted to convene those companies now and we launched Paddington Life Sciences in 2023. Of course we also have the White City campus with a focus on tech. All this has been convened through the NHS and we are interested in health equity. We want to draw more of our residents into research and they are a huge asset in terms of health data, in fact we have one of the largest data sets in Europe. We want to focus on our strengths and grow what we are doing, but like everyone else we have a challenge around lab space and are completing with The Crick and SC1, Canada Water and Canary Wharf. One strength is our connectivity to the west with the Heathrow Express, the Elizabeth Line and Old Oak Common.

'I have worked here for 15 years and really seen big changes in the area. British Land owns land around Paddington and coming out of the station and the way there is an exit straight onto the canal, along with the renovation of Sheldon Square, the days of seeing Paddington as grotty is over.

'Historically Imperial has been very academic but we are interested now in moving into commercial partnerships and really interested in social purpose. The interest in the latter can be seen in Boston where staff are getting involved in community projects. There is interest in diversity in communities and trials, so the US is now visiting us to see how we are doing community engagement. So our project started as a development but has widened out into social purpose and research.'

Image: Aerial shot of the Imperial campus at White City, London, looking south across the M40 to Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith Broadway and the Thames (Courtesy LBHF)

Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan added during the debate on the future for investment into west London:

'Looking at Cambridge expansion, Gove thinks the only way forward is via a development corporation which is the wrong way. It was the Vice Chancellor of Brunel University who said the British are the only race to take a laissez-faire approach to economics, so we inherited basically a wild west where property development is given a free hand to build loads of flats for overseas investors. One of the most interesting books I read when we were about to launch the industrial strategy in 2017 - by Richard Dobbs & Others - was "No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends"

'I quote from this: "Compared to the industrial revolution this change (in technology) is happening 10 times faster, at 300 times the scale and with 3 million times the impact."

'That was written in 2015! Now take AI for instance - people thought it would take until 2035 but it is here now. What can we do to build an eco system like the Bay Area in California, or Boston's Kendall Square? Here in west London we had the media ecosystem of the BBC, which is still with us. Actually, we got lucky because Imperial College London bought some land sites at White City for labs. We also got lucky in Professor Alice Gast, who had been one of Hillary Clinton's science envoys, had been at MIT and at Stanford and was now running Imperial as its President. She knew all about technology clusters. I went to talk to her, and in a sense it was the easiest pitch I have made as she understood how we were trying to re-shape London and the world! She said 'No other council has talked to us like this before!'

'Since launching in 2017, we have had £6bn worth of growth, more than the rest of west London combined, and this includes more green growth than Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham combined. Life sciences are dominating. The question is can this be done elsewhere? Anyone in the golden triangle has a head start and the new government will go for growth, growth, growth. Can you have these ecosystems all around the UK? I think you can.'

Above: entrance to Paddington Station from Praed Street with the 'Cube' on right under construction and part of St Mary's Hospital

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust's Head of Redevelopment, Matthew Tulley, was brought into the conversation and it was suggested to him that the announcement last May from the UK government, that St Mary's Hospital would not be receiving the funding immediately that it needs to develop its buildings, was a disappointment, but that the campaign to build the Fleming Institute at St Mary's Hospital, is very much a positive:

'There is still a big commitment to St Mary's Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith but this is a decade long endeavour. We will have a brand new hospital here at St Mary's but it is a bit frustrating that funding isn't coming earlier. We are hoping that news of the next round of funding will be coming imminently and that announcement will be very public at that stage, but it's not a short process. St Mary's has fantastic heritage and also life sciences developments of the future to look forward to. Of course that life sciences of the future is built on the heritage - that whole research ethos that has been part of it .

'The future Fleming Institute is also part of that heritage. Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928 at St Mary's and you can go and visit his lab. The legacy of that - and you could say his discovery was the greatest scientific contribution to the world in 20th century - reminds of us the problem of anti-microbial resistance that we are looking at today. We have funds to raise if we want the institute to be built. Lord Darzi wants to bring people together - to have policy conversations in the same place. This is all about public engagement. There will be a science museum as part of the institute that you can visit for educational purposes.

'Our community who use St Mary's is within walking distance but there is disparity within it in terms of income but also of life expectancy, which in some cases can be up to 18 years. We have a lot of work with the local authority to do to try to address this and halve it and that is also the basis of the creation of Paddington Life Sciences, which has a social purpose to make life better.'

At our Lambeth Palace forum last May, Matthew was asked how important the porosity of the Paddington Central site is and he replied:

'It's a careful balance. I was at Great Ormond Street Hospital before where we built a research centre, which had lab space in a semi-basement with double height windows so it was very visible to people outside walking along the pavement, It's very open. There was an interesting debate among the scientists there, some of whom saw the opportunity for public engagement. It's been very successful.

'I think the conversation about The Crick and Somers Town is very interesting because often with these construction site disruptions the local people aren't the ones to benefit and I would imagine the scientists who work there aren't local - so how do you create value for the community - perhaps with local jobs associated with it?

'Going back to Paddington and St Mary's Hospital, which does serve the local community, one of the important things as we go through the development process is engaging with that community. It's going to be their hospital. We do still see people in the original 1850's buildings but we have about nine acres of prime real estate and the opportunity for a new hospital on half of that site with the other half devoted to commercial use. What should that commercial hub look like, what should it be? We need to create a great place and one where people want to work next to a brand new teaching hospital. Of course it will benefit from the best transport links and the Elizabeth Line is a huge benefit.'

Matthew was asked about the surrounding area and in particular Praed Street - could this put off talent from abroad from wanting to work at the commercial hub in the future?

'Yes, Praed Street is a little run-down but the north side of Paddington Basin is now developed with the canal and office buildings and people travel from quite far away to go there at the weekends. However, the wayfinding around the area and hospital site isn't easy and we need to make the life science centre when it is built to be a great place, something like King's Place over at King's Cross. Of course our USP for attracting talent is also the very high-end research that we carry out with specialties in trauma and infectious diseases. We also have the largest set of patient data in Europe and I am in conversations with companies such as Vodafone to make the most of that data.'

According to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust the strategic outline case (SOC) for redevelopment submitted to the government in September 2021 focuses on St Mary’s role as a leading provider of clinical care, education and research and, through its major trauma centre in particular, a key part of the health system for north west London and the capital as a whole. It highlights that the hospital’s aging estate is in rapid decline, creating a real risk of having to make service closures within the next 6-9 years.

The SOC concludes that the existing Paddington site is the only viable location for the redevelopment, especially given St Mary’s role as a major trauma centre and the needs of its local population who live in some of the most deprived boroughs in the UK. It demonstrates the need for an increase in capacity to future proof acute care provision in London, with modelling - based on Greater London Authority population growth projections, changing demand, new ways of working and closer collaboration with partners across our integrated care system - showing a requirement for a total of 840 beds across the new St Mary’s.

The Trust’s preferred option for redevelopment is to invest in new, user-centred clinical facilities across three main hospital buildings and, on land that would then be freed up, develop a clinical life sciences cluster in partnership with industry and research. There would be dedicated research, education and innovation spaces within the hospital buildings, and links to a new centre for clinical infection that brings together specialist expertise in infectious disease, research and education (including the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum). The preferred option is expected to cost £1.2-1.7 billion net, once receipts from the sale of surplus land are taken into account. The SOC argues that doing nothing is not an option given the very high risk of estates failure and calculates that just addressing backlog maintenance in the existing buildings through repairs and basic refurbishment would cost at least £1 billion. But this would mean no increase in capacity, no additional benefits in terms of improved layout and operational performance and no opportunity to release surplus land and bring in land receipts.

Image: CGI Wootton Science Park, Oxfordshire, courtesy of Scott Brownrigg

The issue of deciding whether to build new hospitals or retrofit existing buildings for patient-use and scientists was a topic tackled during the debate by Ed Hayden, Director at Scott Brownrigg:

'To demolish or re-build is an important question. When we ask that question we are really looking at the problem of embodied carbon in a building. We are trying to build low carbon buildings now, and (addressing) those two issues of demolition or retrofit is a carefully balanced decision. Most older hospital buildings do not lend themselves to life sciences, but if you do demolish but can re-use the material which holds the carbon, that is positive.'

It was put to Ed that building on constrained sites is very difficult in London, so demolition and building tall towers for hospital wards or lab spaces might be the answer, compared to places like Oxfordshire and South Cambridgeshire where there is more room to expand. Ed responded:

'Building in London is difficult but you do have all the amenities that you can plug into where as in 'out of town' you are building from scratch and that is not easy. Science buildings are low density but in dense situations like London, where you do have amenities, it can be easier.'

The need to expand science innovation campuses, was a topic that Ed Hayden spoke about at our Oxford forum last September:

'This debate has been interesting in talking about how to solve sustainability problems. We have been working with industry on this. It is all about collaboration, you cannot do it working as a lone architect. We need to hit a 40% increase in Oxford on new lab space and look at the issue of embodied carbon in the construction phase. We also need innovative way to get biodiversity into these schemes.

'It is important that we build science communities that don't require cars. We need walkable science campuses with buildings that can flex over time. The old science parks had a lot of car parks but the new ones should be about inter-connected buildings, that you can walk between, giving the science community that extra bit of interaction. The spaces can be used in between and the inter-connectivity makes that happen. Green space becomes accessible and it gets populated.

'Thinking about Boston and competitiveness, what we haven't got yet is sizable buildings and clients that are growing will ask where can we go and often the answer is 'over to the States'. So it is important to develop that here and make sure that science happens in the UK.'

Scott Brownrigg as a practice is well known for its high quality design of science buildings and masterplans -particularly in both Oxford and Cambridge. The £35 million masterplan at Wootton Science Park in Oxfordshire, includes circa 106,233 sq ft (9,869 sq m) of new commercial laboratory space across five buildings, including greenspace, secure bike storage, restaurant and gym facilities.  

Addressing the region's increasing demand for high-quality grow-on lab and workspace, the masterplan aims to provide amenities that not only support those working here but also create a new destination for the wider community. Public consultation is currently open until 18 April, with the planning application due to be submitted in early June.  

Scott Brownrigg was also briefed to create a .new gateway to Cambridge Science Park, the county’s first dedicated technology estate:

'We focused on attracting high tech and Research & Development companies to the Park, creating a brand new vision for Cambridge. Our two building design creates a flexible option for both single or multi-tenant occupancy – featuring a colonnade which sweeps across the front, echoing the curve of the spine road. The column spacing guides occupants and visitors to the entrance, with wider spaced columns emphasising the entrance area and denser columns protecting the office space. Highly glazed facades connect the working environment to the landscaped setting.

'Our BREEAM Excellent rated design lays the entrance colonnade fins flat against the side elevations, creating the façade system. These are broken down into smaller masses to create a sense of rhythm, whilst enabling daylight to flood in to the office floors. As well as creating a new public realm space between the two buildings, our design gives transparency to the buildings and supports the sustainable agenda.'

Image: canal-side public space and amenities at Paddington, looking from Sheldon Square towards the Cube and St Mary's Hospital, with station to right

Following on from this discussion area, British Land described how the provision of high-quality amenities at Paddington Central was a fundamental ingredient, in order to turn a ' 'grey' business park into something more deserving for its occupants. Tim Haddon, Head of Asset Management - Paddington, Ealing and Office Stand-Alone Portfolio, said:

'A lot of fundamentals are the same for our customers. We came here 11 years ago and we have been trying to change the places around the buildings. It was a very grey and sterile business park location and we wanted to bring new life into the place. We secured canal boats to echo the nearby Little Venice feel and invested in new public realm with 10 to 12 million pounds from the outset. We needed to create a sense of place and community and bring people out of their offices. We have been trying to evolve the place.'

British Land has recently brought out a report with Savills suggesting that the UK will need to build a lot more lab space if it is going to compete globally. The report, Accelerating Innovation in London, builds on the nationwide report, Accelerating Innovation: a five point plan to boost life sciences real estate, and recognises the critical role of real estate in supporting the government’s ambitions of becoming a global leader in science.

It offers recommendations for unlocking growth in the sector with a specific focus on London’s unique attributes in academia, research, talent, investment and creativity. The report highlights that if the London science market pursued the same levels of projected growth for the science real estate market in London as expected in New York, one of the recognised markets for sciences in the US along with Boston and Silicon Valley, by 2035, it would generate 52,000 more jobs, £3.1 billion in additional GVA per year and an extra £850 million per year in tax revenue to fund public services.

This presents a considerable opportunity for the UK to leverage its capital city to position itself as an attractive and effective destination for global science and technology investment, provided it establishes the proper ecosystem for growth. To reach its full potential and be at the heart of growth in all areas from life sciences to green tech to data science and AI, the UK must overcome challenges surrounding the chronic lack of available lab space in and around London, with planning delays and the lack of a coordinated inward investment strategy further limiting the growth of this critical sector.

Tim Haddon was asked at Future Cities Forum's discussion whether building modular labs as at The Paper Yard in Canada Water might be the answer to extending new lab space:

'At The Paper Yard we have the ability through modular to test things to see if they work. We have the land there and it is a bit different to Paddington so we can decide what route to go in terms of mixes of uses. The question is how we can grow a place. If you are starting from scratch how do you do it? The restaurants want the offices to be there first and the offices want the restaurants in place. Will they trust the partnership approach? We have proven it through our other campuses in Broadgate in the City of London etc.'

In March, British Land announced that Prosemino, a venture builder committed to addressing climate change by co-founding and building innovative early-stage clean energy technology companies, had leased more than 2,500 sq ft of laboratory and office space at the Paper Yard – British Land’s new 33,000 sq ft modular lab space at Canada Water.

Focused on cutting-edge net zero solutions grounded in electrochemistry – encompassing batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen production, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, Prosemino was founded by world-leading academics at UCL and Oxford universities to unite academia, industry and visionary entrepreneurs in a collaborative ecosystem.

British Land stated:

'Prosemino has taken 1,800 sq ft of wet and dry lab space at Paper Yard, as well as 700 sq ft of office space. At this new location, an evolution and expansion of Prosemino’s current space in Hackney Wick, entrepreneurs and innovators will be provided with specialist labs and hands-on scientific, legal and business expertise, as well as access to a unique global network.'

'Designed by Hawkins\Brown, Paper Yard is a unique new scheme that will accommodate a range of complex scientific requirements including research, work and education within a highly sustainable environment that encourages interaction, maximises daylight and promotes wellbeing.

'Paper Yard sits alongside TEDI-London, an engineering higher education enterprise co-founded by King’s College London, Arizona State University and UNSW Sydney, as part of a 76,000 sq ft innovation campus.'

Image: Paper Yard modular build, courtesy of British Land

So how can the UK look at global science cities and districts, to find out how to expand lab space or foresee the danger signs of potential over-investment.

Buro Happold's Rachel Hallam, joined the conversation to discuss the current state of lab space being designed and let in Boston, United States. Rachel is an architect specialising in laboratory and research design and consultancy, with significant experience in the life science, healthcare, academic and research sectors.

With over ten years working with leading research institutes in Oxford, Cambridge, and London, she has a strong understanding of the trends that underpin successful facilities. Rachel presented at the European Association for Sustainable Laboratories (EGNATON) Annual Conference, discussing challenges faced in designing adaptable, flexible and efficient research space for speculative users. Rachel is currently involved in new and refurbished facilities in the emerging London knowledge and innovation ‘hubs’ such as King’s Cross and Canary Wharf.

Should the UK follow the pattern of expansion in Boston, where some lab space units are beginning to be left empty. Rachel responded:

'Boston is a highly successful city for science development. I would not say it is in trouble itself but there is an acknowledgement of a bit of a slow down in the market which produced the buzz phrase of lab ready that really took off five years back. There is a sense that the development creation ran too fast for the tenants to take up space so they are now focused more on incubator space.

'What the developers found is that they are struggling to get the bigger tenants as capital investment is difficult in this current economy. There is lots of incubator space being taken up with high demand and that's what we need to focus on here in the UK to help the smaller companies to get up and running. They have identified the need for expansion space in the same building for these smaller companies in the USA, and we can learn from that.'

' In the UK, we need to go a bit slower on lab space. What we could do better is focus on re-use, especially in London - do we focus on demolishing or focus on re-use? Boston has more space so it is different. New York, where they are struggling for room might be a closer comparison for London.'


Richard Walder, Partner and UK Science & Technology Leader at Buro Happold, also joined the debate to further the discussion around sustainability of build in the science lab area. Throughout his career, Richard has gained experience covering the design of a broad spectrum of facilities including numerous speculative commercial laboratory developments and end-user R&D buildings. In addition to technical expertise ranging from design of CL2 & CL3 laboratories to cleanrooms and translational research facilities, Richard has advised numerous major institutional science clients on decarbonising their estates.

At Buro Happold, Richard has led the engineering on schemes on a wide range of projects including the RIBA-Award winning Michael Uren Biomedical Research Hub in White City. He is presently developing Europe’s largest multi-let speculative life sciences facility which will set the benchmark for commercial science buildings in terms of both functionality and sustainability.

He is passionate about integrating cutting-edge engineering design with high-quality architecture to deliver outstanding sustainable buildings which inspire users whilst building in the flexibility which is so critical to organisations working in changing scientific environments.

Richard said:

'Labs are great users of energy and water. When we are going through planning applications there is always lots of scrutiny. Designing for the long term with high quality that works from a carbon perspective for re-use is very important. Many buildings that we assess for re-use which were built 70 years ago with a 50 year life span are now crumbling. What we need to do now is to design for a 100 to 200 year life span and think about flexibility of use. What may be a wet lab now with all the volumetric needs that go with that may in future be impacted by AI technology so in 50 years it will have a different job to do including accommodation potentially.'

'On the plus side that works well for designing the places and ecosystems in between the buildings so that the framework for the incubator companies works just as well for the corporates and bigger companies. The smaller ones can scale up within the campus. Sustainability is also about longevity and how companies can grow and develop within a place. Some of these will fail quickly.

'It one of the USPs in the UK that we are strong at designing public realm for these campuses. If you go to Kendall Square in the USA you don't have that with the ground floor just dedicated to tenant space.'

Image: Sir Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub, courtesy of Imperial College London

Buro Happold's Sir Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub, is a new £90m facility for Imperial College London on its White City campus. Made possible by a £40m gift from Sir Michael Uren OBE and his foundation, the 13-storey scheme saw the departments of Medicine and Engineering come together to provide flexible accommodation for translational research initiatives at the interface of biomedical sciences and engineering.

The centre is home to life-changing research into new and affordable medical technology, helping people affected by a diverse range of medical conditions. Research at the Biomedical Engineering Research Hub will help address some of the most pressing healthcare problems of our time.

It will initially focus on seven core themes:  neuromuscular rehabilitation, musculoskeletal technology and rehabilitative medicine, cardiovascular technology, cancer technology, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology and engineered medicines.

Housing state of the art facilities, the 13 storey scheme holds a 150-seat auditorium and a series of social spaces.

The centre is home to life-changing research into new and affordable medical technology, helping people affected by a diverse range of medical conditions.

The project was awarded BREEAM Excellent sustainable design certification. A sophisticated service strategy reduces air flow rates to maximise efficiency.

The building has a triangular plan which responds to the layout of the existing masterplan while affording flexible layouts and an efficient servicing strategy. Paying homage to Uren, a pioneer of the cement substitute, GBBS, for concrete, a field of 1,300 precast concrete fins is set in front of the glazed facades, providing solar shading and privacy to the interior while lending the building a dynamic and distinctive image.

The BREEAM Excellent accredited building incorporates a mixture of laboratory and office space for interdisciplinary research initiatives. One of the main potential consumers of energy within the building was the treatment of supply air that is exhausted into the atmosphere. There was a key design incentive to reduce the air flow rates to the rooms served, while still maintaining the functionality of the room and meeting the environmental parameters.

Initially, the research floor plates were designed as ‘speculative’ laboratory and write-up spaces with ten potential templates: laboratory only, office only and various combinations. Later in the design and construction stages, research tenants were identified for each floor and their layouts tweaked, as required, to accommodate specialist requirements.

Addressing the triangular site constraint and the height of the building, the MEP strategy uses the west ‘nose cone’ to provide vertical modular plant rooms directly serving each floor. Additional mechanical plant is located on the roof and in the basement.

Image: London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS), by the Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith - courtesy of James Newton.

Buro Happold's new London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) - in collaboration with Imperial College, provides a home for up to 45 research groups, allowing the organisations to come together and collaborate in a single state-of-the-art space for the first time.

The 12,500m² building is located at Hammersmith Hospital in White City and houses a variety of facilities, including containment level-2 laboratories, central biological services, high-end imaging and support spaces including write-up spaces, a data centre, public engagement spaces and social facilities, including a café. The facilities are constructed around a visually impressive feature staircase, which runs the full height of the building in a single sweep from the atrium.

The MRC has been carrying out important medical research for more than a century.

The design for the new building carefully considers the need to protect the precision imaging equipment used in the institute’s research. Energy saving strategies such as centralised freezer farms and low velocity ductwork systems reduce consumption and running costs.

As well as containing traditional wet labs, the new building features a range of bioinformatics facilities that allow for high computational science to take place. With medical imaging central to the work of the MRC, the new facilities feature highly sensitive imaging equipment, including cryo-electron microscopes and confocal microscopes, which are susceptible to interference from vibrations. The Buro Happold team needed to incorporate solutions that will ensure the stringent criteria needed to protect equipment without putting excessive constraints on other elements of the design.

With 45 different research groups keen to have facilities shaped to their particular needs, Buro Happold’s collective experience of multi-stakeholder engagement on complex projects was particularly in demand and became of key importance for the wider design team. It states:

'Using our in-depth technical knowledge of the vibration and environmental requirements for specialist buildings, our vibration, structural, acoustic and building services (MEP) engineers worked together closely to develop holistic solutions that complement the scientific workflows, as well as the architecture of the building. Structural isolation was carefully designed into the plans to minimise any vibration around the more sensitive pieces of equipment.' 

Future Cities Forum would like to thank all those contributors who have given the above insight in the the expansion of life science districts in the first part of our report.


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