Balancing collaboration spaces with private areas to support the needs of academic researchers
One of the greatest challenges of creating university research facilities for the 21st century is designing a layout that facilitates collaboration and interdisciplinary co-operation while providing for the needs of researchers to manage their own experiments and write up their work without distractions.
Flexibility is key, as is a creative approach to space planning, building fabric, and building services. All of these goals were factored in to the concept design and design development at the £20 million Wellcome-Wolfson Institute of Experimental Medicine (WWEIM).
Collaboration in a research environment isn’t just about shared facilities and collaborative workspaces; it’s also about creating a layout that connects research teams to each other with a combination of open plan areas and visual connectivity between enclosed areas. At the WWEIM, that visual connection is delivered by the presence of two atria; a core atrium in the centre of the ‘collaboration zone’ and an additional atrium that has been used to extend the building to the full footprint of the site.
The result is an airy, open-plan feel and a wealth of informal spaces where colleagues and students can discuss their work, with natural light and openness.
At a Glance
- Queen’s University
- Ostick + Williams
- 2016 RICS Awards, Northern Ireland, Project of the Year Award and Innovation through Design Award
- 2015 Construction Excellence for Northern Ireland, Construction Excellence Awards
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