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Interview - The Roslin Institute
Marc Edmondson

1. What constraints did you come up against during the design process and how were these overcome?

Although not physically attached to neighbouring existing buildings, designing a relatively large contemporary building that ‘fits-in’ within a rural context presented a real challenge. Using largely natural materials for the building envelop in a clean yet striking fashion has helped the new Easterbush Research Centre (EBRC) blend in whist maintaining its own individual appeal. Working with the campus management team and landscape architects we ensured the EBRC integrated effectively into a developing campus wide infrastructure. The building users were unsure about going from small cellular study rooms to an open shared work environment. With well-considered precedence research and with a close ongoing dialog with the user team, we were able to overcome client fears and delivered a very successful working solution.


• Disruption to existing farm and study facilities
• Additional cost/risk with rural location and delivery disruption
• Client/ user conflicting needs: a desire for closed cell workspace vs. flexibility
• A strong desire for passive building services whilst maintaining good environmental control
• Vehicle and pedestrian access with a yet undeveloped campus infrastructure

2. The site of the Roslin Institute Building


was chosen from a selection of six. Why was this site selected and how does the final design fit into the context?

Following extensive reviews of alternative location proposals, the EBRC selected a preferred site for the building on the location of the existing EBVC Farm, benefits of which include a consolidation of the Easter Bush campus for enhanced interaction. This is best summarised by the many advantages:


• Visibility - ‘iconic image’
• Connected to Veterinary School/campus
• ‘Cleaner’ campus (consolidated/interactive)
• Minimum infrastructure (savings in infrastructure)
• Potential sharing amenities (auditorium/cafeteria)

3. The completed structure was inspired by the form of a human chromosome. How did this limit/enhance the final composition?

The design concept informed the completed structure and this translation is evident in the finished structure. The final form in concrete was informed by the materials’ ability to respond to the following demands:

• Provide a robust structure appropriate to general laboratory bench research activities
• Create special areas of increased robustness for highly vibration-sensitive equipment
• Allow for spans that balance the needs to provide robustness with the need to provide column-free areas for flexibility of laboratory layouts and future adaptations
• Apply a grid, particularly in lab areas to allow a modular layout of laboratory furniture
• Minimum constraints to the simple installation and adaptation of horizontal services
• Main risers for vertical services and provision of soft zones for minor builders work holes for vertical services both in construction and for later adaptations
• Ability to incorporate dropped slab areas for walk-in equipment (autoclaves, cold rooms, etc)
• Contribution to the building aesthetics (light wells, entrances, etc)

4. Why was the decision made not to include air conditioning in the



The natural ventilation of the open plan office areas is a direct response to the BREEAM design requirements and the thermal mass contribution of the concrete frame for environmental control of these naturally ventilated areas.

5. How much input have the building’s users had in the final design?

The users have been fully engaged from the outset of the project through to the migration preparations in anticipation of the move into the new facility in spring 2011. From the earliest stages of the project in 2007 the design team employed the following techniques which ensured the users had the maximum impact:

• Conducting a ‘visioning’ session to establish the cultural and organisational aspirations of the users
• Engaging with EBRC staff to test and develop the strategic and outline brief. Points of note include the addition of a 250 seat auditorium
• Generating alternative site concepts
• Generating alternative building concepts based on a generic laboratory module
• Developing the preferred site and concept and facilitating the Client decision making process

This was followed by developing specific room data sheets in the next stages, which illustrated all requirements for environment, services and equipment within rooms. These formed part of the user requirement specifications for a validation process. Details included all specialist equipment to be fitted in rooms e.g. autoclaves, electron microscopes etc, and specifications for services, connections and details of environmental conditions needed for heat gain emitted from equipment.



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