As the future of digital technologies is unknown, the Digital Lab is designed to achieve maximum flexibility of internal spaces to allow for changing patterns in research. The WMG is a key player in research technologies within the West Midlands, with significant international links. The building acts as a showcase for the innovative research taking place within. The first floor concourse acts as a gallery for the many activities taking place within the building, as well as allowing staff, students and visitors to gather, work and relax in informal meeting areas.
The Digital Lab achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, despite being on a green-field site. The four-storey building consists of pre-cast concrete planks with an exposed steel structure utilising the thermal mass. The sedum-covered roof, together with an adjacent swale, increases biodiversity and assists in reducing water run-off as part of a Sustainable Urban Drainage System. The building plugs into the University’s campus-wide CHP-powered district heating and the infrastructure is in place to retro-fit photo-voltaic panels when the funding becomes available.
The University had a tight deadline for completion and for the build cost. The design process began in March 2006, with works on site commencing January 2007. The client achieved occupation in July 2008. The final Contract Sum came in at £9,375,000, resulting in £1,875/sq m.