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CPMG’s £30 million new bioscience centre lights up Nottingham

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A mixed-use science and business hub has opened in the East Midlands, with facilities that include laboratories, office space, chemical and solvent storage rooms and a café

The £30 million new building, part of the Midlands Engine initiative and funded by Nottingham City Council, will accommodate up to 350 new users in 6,900m² of space laid out over five floors.

A solid, concrete-panel faced ground floor contains offices and conference facilities, and takes up the full footprint of the site. This acts as a podium to the four upper four storeys, a simple cuboid form that is offset from it and cantilevers slightly out. These floors have extensive glazing with bronze anodised detailing and are dedicated to more specialised laboratory space and support spaces.

The most striking element of the exterior design is the integration of a 55 metre by 17 metre artwork Corona by the artist Wolfgang Buttress. It is constructed from more than 1,000 stainless steel cables which wrap around and shroud the southern and western façades of the building. This is designed to act both as solar screen and provide a distinctive marker for the building, particularly at night when it illuminates. Its illumination is linked directly to signals from NASA satellites orbiting the sun, with the artwork’s glow intensity responding directly to the intensity and location of solar flares emanating from the sun’s surface. 

WebSize WolfgangButtress Corona 03 04 17 0519

WebSize WolfgangButtress Corona 03 04 17 0519

Source: Alex Bland

Architect’s statement

The Discovery Building is a bioscience and biochemistry research facility that contains over 4,000m² of flexible space on its upper floors, including a mixture of CAT level 2 and 3 laboratories, administration and office areas. Additional space for conferencing and small-scale business incubator units are located on the ground floor. The flexibility inherent within the design enables it to accommodate between one and eight research companies over four floors of laboratories.

Consisting of a ‘stone’ ground floor podium which responds to the irregular shape of the site, with a four-storey bronze anodised cuboid above, the building form is simple, yet elegant. The entrance is signified by vertical zinc cladding that wraps under a first floor soffit guiding visitors to the reception area. An emphasis was placed on the quality and longevity of the external facing materials, creating a building with a long life that would set a high benchmark for future developments in the area.

The 55 metre by 17 metre artist-designed solar screen is designed both to create a distinct identity for the building and provide solar shading to the laboratories.

The building achieved BREEAM Excellent, EPC A and an airtightness of 3m³/h/m². The laboratory layouts have been designed to safely reduce fume cupboard face velocity to 0.3m/s, improving the building’s energy efficiency and reducing ongoing operational costs.

The building was realised through the adoption of level 2 BIM. The design team used BIM to work collaboratively in a 3D environment to design and develop the construction information. 

Matt Greenhalgh, architect and project lead, CPMG Architects

7679  S Lab Image 6 copy

7679 S Lab Image 6 copy

Source: CPMG Architects

Sectional perspective

Project data

Start on site October 2015
March 2017
Gross internal floor area 6,900m²
Form of contract or procurement route SCAPE
Construction cost £30 million (inclusive of design fees, preconstruction costs under SCAPE and laboratory fit out)
CPMG Architects
Nottingham City Council
Structural engineer Morgan Tucker
M&E consultant Crouch Perry Wilkes
Quantity surveyor Gleeds
Artist Wolfgang Buttress
Landscape architect Ares Landscape 
Planning consultant P&DG
BREEAM consultant HRS Services
Acoustic engineer RPS Acoustics 
Specialist science consultant CAM-SCI
NEC supervisor Pick Everard
Project manager 
CDM coordinator
Approved building inspector Nottingham City Council
Main contractor Willmott Dixon
M+E contractor Briggs + Forrester
CAD software used 

AutoDesk Revit 2014
Annual CO2 emissions BER (building emissions rate) of 22kg/CO2

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