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UCL Pearl

The world’s first facility to study how we interact with our environment, helping us ensure a greater quality of life

  • London, United Kingdom

    London, United Kingdom

Designing the mechanical and electrical engineering for UCL’s first carbon net zero building

How do you create a world inside a building? This was the problem University College London (UCL) faced when scoping out their new research facility, the Person Environment Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL).

To help make their vision a reality, UCL appointed our team to provide the mechanical and electrical engineering necessary to create an immersive laboratory to monitor what people see, touch, hear, smell, or feel in real world scenarios. Described as one of London’s most remarkable new buildings, the 4,000 square metre, 10-metre-high mega lab offers full-size simulations and facilitates research into access and mobility, from navigating curbs in wheelchairs to improving train design and maximising space inside aircraft. We took inspiration from national theatres to deliver the flexibility to change from one scene to another in the shortest possible time. The systems provide specific visual, aural, and olfactory experiences to create a realistic experience. Lighting systems are adjustable so that light levels from anywhere on earth, at any time of the day or night, can be simulated.

PEARL was designed to meet the low energy and carbon emissions targets set by UCL. We modelled the mechanical and engineering systems as well as the building performance to test and predict future energy use. This, combined with efficient building fabric and services, makes PEARL UCL’s first carbon net zero building.

At a Glance

Penoyre & Prasad
Image Credit
Shortlisted in the Digital Construction Awards

UCL PEARL flythrough

Watch the flythrough of this unique facility which was built to explore the ways in which people interact with their environment. Video Credit: UCL & Volkerfitzpatrick.

Expert Spotlight

Martin Dix, Director, Buildings

We work with great clients on complex buildings—positively contributing to society while learning, evolving, and educating along the way.

Paul Taylor, Associate Acoustician

I am passionate about using acoustics to improve the health, wellbeing, and livelihood of the communities we live in.

Martin Dix

Director, Buildings

Paul Taylor

Associate Acoustician

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