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Mechanochemical Cell Biology Extension

Project Discription

The MCBB is a three-storey landmark new build laboratory facility for molecular cancer research including confocal video laboratory and a clean room.

The building provides accommodation for a world class biomedical research team and the design strives to encourage interaction between science disciplines.

The complexity of reconciling a scientific brief with sustainable design is represented in the building façades. The building uses multiple layers of environmental filters from solar control glass to brightly coloured vents for night purge cooling and brise soleil which turn their orientation from horizontal to vertical as they corner the building and the sun drops in the sky.

These passive and active technologies have helped to achieve a BREEAM rating of Excellent.

The MASB project was the first University scheme to be subject to a ‘soft landings’ process and the users’ high levels of effort and enthusiasm in the early stages ensured their on-going cooperation during this stage. The feedback we’ve received informed our seasonal commissioning and fine tuning of building services and automatic control systems. Revisiting the setup of building systems and making appropriate adjustments will enable the University to better match the building’s operating/demand profiles based on operation and seasonal trend data.

The renewable energy installations have generated 5.9% of the building’s energy demand and ensured an EPC ‘A’ rating. Our use of comprehensive daylight modelling processes supported a façade design that maximised natural light. We coupled this with high efficiency light fittings that incorporate daylight dimming and absence detection controls to further reduce energy consumption in the building.

To support the University’s commitment to be a centre for world-class research, training and innovation in healthcare, the overriding driver for design and development of the MCBB was to encourage collaborative research and learning between users and students and provide a world class setting, attractive to regional, national and international sponsors in industry and academia. Sharing of equipment and effective use of space were important mechanisms in achieving this, whilst also providing a core technology platform that could be retasked as income when not being utilized for research or training.

At inception we carried out a strategic review of the estate which identified an opportunity to exploit existing complementary accommodation in adjacent facilities by constructing the building as an extension. Thus, a large saving on unproductive space for stairs and toilets etc was made. Retention of the abutting building facade an internal compartment wall required careful consideration of its construction and adaptation of its cladding to maintain its weathertightness during construction until it could be reclad with fire resisting construction.

We adopted a robust consultation strategy involving researchers and technicians, equipment providers, University Stakeholders from Estates, FM, IT and Procurement. Consultations were programmed at the outset and co-ordinated with University’s governance committee calendar. Strategic drivers for efficiencies were:

Rapid advancement of research programmes through shared analytical instrumentation;
Space utilisation improvements in existing departments;
Success of academic mission underpinned by functionality.

Consultation required engagement with the specialist equipment manufacturers to finalise the brief and design.

Following appointment of the contractor, further value engineering opportunities identified changing the frame construction from concrete to steel accelerated the expenditure drawdown to meet funders’ deadlines.


2,000 sqm


Coventry, UK

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