Future flexibility

James
23 Feb 2010

Digital Laboratory at the University of Warwick designed for now, and when

This state-of-the-art building provides an innovative environment for collaborative research, demonstrators, knowledge transfer and training. The Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) work here with a number of partners, enabling strategic change in industry, service and healthcare sectors. The Digital Lab achieves a quality of space, lightness and transparency which is unexpected for a building of a tight budget. Through clever design and strong working relationships with the client it delivers to everyone’s expectations and beyond.

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.

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