Quadram Institute

Norwich, UK

The Quadram Institute in Norwich sees the coming together of the Institute for Food Research, the University of East Anglia and departments from the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital into a single facility. This interdisciplinary institute is dedicated to understanding how food and gut microbiota are linked in order to promote health and the prevention of disease.


The Institute includes Containment Level 2 and Containment Level 3 laboratories as well as a Clinical Trials facility and one of Europe’s largest Endoscopy departments, enabling research and diagnostics to be performed under the same roof. The brief for the Buro Happold team was to create a building that would enable this collaboration between different scientific activities.

Energy reduction was key to the design, so our team needed to give careful consideration to the level of internal environmental control and analysis, with developing opportunities to safely reduce the traditionally applied laboratory air change rates an important factor. We also needed to incorporate solutions that would reduce energy consumption across the whole development, taking into consideration use of natural light and ventilation.

a man descending a set of wooden stairs at the Quadram Institute
The Institute mission is to ‘deliver healthier lives through innovation in gut health, microbiology and food’. Image: NBBJ and Luke Hayes


To counter the high energy levels associated with laboratories, we used wind tunnel testing to determine safe fume efflux parameters while minimising the fan energy consumed. Daylight-linked lighting systems have been designed to sit in aesthetic harmony with the acoustic baffles throughout the building, creating areas that are optimised for the users as well as the technical functions. Our engineers also incorporated a 400kW reversible ground source heat pump system to ensure that carbon emissions are minimised further.

bird's eye view of man walking through a corridor at the Quadram Institute
The Institute is located at the heart of the Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s largest single-site concentrations of research in food, health and environmental sciences. Image: NBBJ and Luke Hayes

Further contributing to the quality of the space, our MEP engineers designed the laboratories to include exposed high-level services, allowing the use of fabric ductwork for optimal air distribution and easy maintenance and adaptability, as well as creating a greater sense of space.

Richard Walder, Buro Happold

To create an exemplar environment in the write-up spaces, we carried out complex parametric facade shading studies and detailed natural ventilation analysis, alongside incorporating strategies for low energy consumption. Our team refined the office floor layouts to take best advantage of a cross-flow ventilation strategy, and the use of under floor MEP distribution has maximised the floor to ceiling heights in the space.

This approach has also increased daylight penetration and made the best of the thermal mass of the structure to enhance the environmental conditions. During winter, excess heat from densely occupied areas such as meeting rooms is captured and redistributed to the open plan office floor areas, ensuring that all rooms remain at a comfortable temperature regardless of whether they are occupied, but still avoiding expending energy unnecessarily.

People ascending the stairs outside a research lab in the Quadram Institute
With a focus on uniting research and diagnostics, the Quadram Institute is designed to encourage shared learning and collaboration. Image: NBBJ and Luke Hayes


Bringing a number of disparate specialities together under one roof, the Quadram Institute is allowing scientists to work collaboratively to combat diseases that affect us from when we are born through to old age. The building is also accommodating innovative research into food science and safety, with the aim of reducing the impact on health services. Buro Happold’s work has contributed to the creation of spaces that encourage interaction across disciplines, offer exceptional laboratory environments and reduce emissions.

Scientists conducting research in the labs in the Quadram Institute
Research teams from Quadram Institute Bioscience, the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) have been brought together in this outstanding research environment. Image: NBBJ and Luke Hayes
view from within the Quadram Institute's light filled atrium
The world leading research facilities housed in the Institute are helping to accelerate innovation in food and disease. Image: NBBJ and Luke Hayes

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