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Bristol University’s Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, Bristol, United Kingdom

Wednesday 09 Sep 2009


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The world's quietest building opens 

Hailed as the quietest building in the world, the £11 million Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information provides state-of-the-art specialised laboratories where vibration and acoustic noise levels are among the lowest ever achieved, despite being located in Bristol city centre.

Capita Symonds provided project management services on the project which was designed by the company’s architecture division – Capita Architecture. It was built by Wilmott Dixon Construction.

The centre, which contains an anechoic chamber, two cleanrooms and wet, optical and low-vibration laboratories, will offer opportunities for the development of future computing, communications and health technologies, as well as advanced materials such as those used in the aerospace industry. The basement houses the ‘low noise’ area with a suite of ultra-low vibration nanoscience laboratories which are anchored to the rock below. The building also benefits from access to techniques and imaging equipment, much of which has been developed in-house, which allow researchers to observe, understand, manipulate and characterise nanostructures and reactions, both chemical and biological, and to develop new synthesised materials.

It has a unique purpose-designed environment in which a multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary research community drawn from science, engineering, and medicine can be fostered and thrive through stimulating interactions and the exchange of ideas.

Symbolism is used in the building form, elevations and atrium dome which is shaped as a ‘bucky ball’. The ‘bucky ball’ is so called because it resembles a geodesic sphere, a molecular structure made popular in the 1940s by American designer Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller.

High quality materials have been used throughout including curved Portuguese limestone on the main elevation set out in the Fibonacci Series. Self-cleaning glass has also been installed which uses Nano particles to break down dirt which is then washed away by rainwater. Iain Martin, Capita Architecture, says: “The NS&QI building is a beautiful and complex building amalgamating both art and science in a harmonious composition. It is technically complex and has exceeded expectations by becoming “the quietest building in the world” in terms of vibration performance. For the scientists the building is beautiful for this reason alone!”

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