A super laboratory with superb sustainability credentials
The Alison Gingell Building
The new The Alison Gingell Building is the cornerstone of the University’s Health and Wellbeing faculty, providing a new ‘super laboratory’ hub for a diverse and complex range of innovative research, as well as teaching and simulations spaces.
Designed to provide true to life training experiences, the building uses state of the art simulation equipment to allow students to practice challenging treatments in a controlled environment.
The building also includes specialist health and social care training facilities, with mock training areas and homes. The space is highly functional and flexible, ensuring it can adapt over time as the University’s teaching and learning approaches change.
The building’s diverse mix of user requirements presented many challenges. The Buro Happold team needed to consider how to optimise the systems and structure for the current requirements while also allowing for future flexibility. We also needed to ensure spaces met the needs of multiple stakeholders, so that shared spaces were suitable for all users.
Creating the ideal acoustic environment for the laboratories and teaching spaces was an essential part of the client’s brief. Our acoustic engineers had to deliver a solution that would meet tight vibration and noise controls.
In addition, the project was committed to reducing carbon levels over a 15 – year period. With the laboratory spaces consuming high volumes of energy, this was a considerable challenge for our team. Achieving the desired BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating presented its own set of challenges – the complexity of the building meant that BREEAM credit criteria was not immediately applicable.
At the beginning of the design process, Buro Happold took time to understand the complex relationships and stakeholder requirements. Working with the University, a formal process of workshops and reporting was developed. As the scheme developed, the stakeholder groups became smaller and this facilitated the sign off of the drawings at each stage.
Working closely with both specialist technicians and stakeholders, we recommended bespoke acoustic solutions to address differing noise levels in the laboratories and teaching spaces. We specified highly rated acoustic walls, and sealing wall penetrations with acoustically rated partitions.
The laboratory and plant rooms have high noise levels, while the teaching spaces need a quieter environment. Our team recommended sound insulation in accordance with the differing noise levels of the variety of room types, creating a tailored acoustic response.
We worked with stakeholders to understand how students and teachers would interact with their space. This allowed us to develop the most appropriate low carbon strategy, taking into consideration the health and wellbeing of the users. We incorporated passive design features to reduce energy consumption, and we reduced the impact of building services systems that were responsible for significant energy loads. Our team also carried out a low carbon technology study to inform the specification and implementation of energy efficient technology over the lifespan of the building.
Significantly adding value to the project, Buro Happold’s consultants worked with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to develop a bespoke interpretation of the rating system, in order to maximise the Science and Health Building’s sustainability potential and future BREEAM rating.
The new faculty building is one of a kind, presenting a unique opportunity for students to train in caring for patients along the entirety of their journey, from when they first need medical assistance through to their treatment and rehabilitation.
The development provides the University with a modern multidisciplinary building, with state of the art healthcare simulation, research and ‘super lab’ environments. The Science and Health Building will be adaptable for future generations of students, teachers and researchers, providing a long- term solution for the University.