Repurposing UK scientific infrastructure to respond to Covid-19 and future pandemics

Responding to Covid-19 through intelligent use of space, repurposing and upgrading laboratories and critical clinical infrastructure.

In response to the enormous challenge the UK is facing in tackling the present outbreak of Covid-19, Buro Happold has partnered with Abell Nepp and Arcadis to undertake qualitative research to generate an accurate understanding of the space and infrastructure needs of healthcare and scientific organisations within the UK. Having spoken to senior decision makers in leading universities, research institutes, private pharmaceutical firms and Public Health England, the research team have developed an understanding of what is required.  

In this introduction to the research, Buro Happold considers two areas of focus; use of space notably repurposing and upgrading at a building scale, and the identification of potential issues in critical infrastructural at an estate (large hospital/science park) scale.  

Clinical space in buildings 

First and foremost, the need for innovative and intelligent thinking on how space is designed, used and created will be paramount.  This is not only in the healthcare sector but across the broader science sector too. Testing and vaccine development facilities and scientific infrastructure will be prioritised and demand for spaces that are flexible and quick and economic to repurpose will escalate.  

Not all the current and available clinical space will be suitable for Covid-19 testing and vaccine development. Lower containment level facilitates are unsuitable and will need to be upgraded. Time pressure is very real, and an urgent need is for expeditious upgrades of lower containment laboratories to levels 3 and 4.  

Estate scale critical infrastructure 

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic will drastically increase the ‘load’ on the existing critical site infrastructure, particularly at large hospital and science park estates. Critical infrastructure readiness will need to be assessed when adding or even repurposing existing facilities. How asset performance impacts larger hospitals and science parks will need to be investigated, including the discovery, design and implementation of solutions to deliver the best possible performance over the asset lifecycle. 

Additionally, for some estate scale science and healthcare enterprises to continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that they will require asset safety audits, business change initiatives to improve operational capability and the development of class leading asset management strategies.  

Receive an overview of the research and outcomes about adapting scientific infrastructure for pandemics

For more information on repurposing space including the upgrade of laboratories to containment levels 3 and 4, and/or the collaborative research undertaken by Buro Happold, Abell Nepp and Arcadis, please contact Andy Parker, Global Healthcare, Science and Technology Lead, Partner  

For more information on large hospital and science park scale critical infrastructure assessment and readiness in a post Covid-19 world, please contact Gavin Thompson, Partner.


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