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Fire destroys Fairhursts-designed university lab

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A fire has destroyed a nearly completed £20million, timber-framed laboratory building designed by the Fairhursts Design Group at the University of Nottingham

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, the scheme’s main contractor Morgan Sindall was a year into the 84 week project to deliver the new GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry.

Semi complete Nottingham University timber frame laboratory project

Due to complete in April 2015, the timber building had been treated against the spread of flames, but did not feature a fire suppression sprinkler system.

Alarms were raised at approximately 8:30pm on 12 September, but around 60 firefighters from across Nottingham were unable to save the shell of the building, which was constructed using engineered timber beams, columns and laminated timber panels.

Fairhursts Design Group's Nottingham University laboratory

Fairhursts Design Group’s proposed Nottingham University laboratory

Ken Shuttleworth, whose practice Make has worked on a number of buildings on the university’s Jubilee Campus site tweeted: ‘Such a great shame to see fire in new building on jubilee campus of University of Nottingham …It was looking so promising …Super green!’

Project manager Nick Hilton had told Construction News the scheme was ‘a once in a lifetime project’ during a site visit the day before the fire broke out.

A spokesperson for Morgan Sindall said: ‘Everyone on the project team has been working hard to deliver this state-of-the-art low carbon laboratory for the university and we are of course greatly saddened to see the devastation caused by the fire.

‘We are supporting the fire service investigation into the cause of the incident and thank its officers for their efforts last night to tackle and contain the blaze.”

Fire crews were still damping down the site on Saturday morning.

A Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue spokesman told the BBC: ‘Work to establish the cause of the blaze can only begin fully once the fire is entirely out.”

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has put £12million towards the proejct as part of its ‘green chemistry’ commitment.

The scheme was set to be a blueprint for GlaxoSmithKline for similar schemes across the world and had been designed to be carbon neutral after 25 years with a BREEAM Outstanding energy performance.

The design called for 200 mm thick cross laminated timber wall and floor panels manufactured by Austrian firm Binderholz and glued laminated timber beams and columns from German producer Hess.

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