New Henry Royce Institute Tops Out

The Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Hub, a new £150m national materials science research centre at the heart of The University of Manchester’s campus, was ceremoniously topped out yesterday by the University’s key stakeholders and project team. The Institute’s Hub is the latest building championing materials science research in the United Kingdom. Designed by architects NBBJ with a project team led by Arcadis; the design team includes contractor Laing O’Rourke, structural engineer Ramboll and building services engineer ARUP.

The 16,000sqm Institute Hub building received planning permission in March 2017 and will be the base for the UK’s leading materials research and commercialisation, housing state-of-the-art equipment and collaborative space for industrial engagement.

Research specialties on-site will include the development of 2D materials used in inks for printable electronics and in super capacitators; and a research group focused on the development and manufacture of biomedical materials used in the field of regenerative medicine and prosthetics. The different types of pioneering scientific research are set to benefit from the collaborative environment facilitated by the building’s design, which encourages interactions between researchers in different fields.

The building is designed to promote ‘science on show’: Researchers and industry partners are linked through vertical connections and shared spaces, which offer strong visual links for staff and visitors between public areas and the laboratories. A triple height ground floor entrance space is open to the wider campus, and visually permeable layouts allow visitors glimpses of workspaces as they climb the staircase through a stepped, three-storey atrium.

‘Collaboration areas’ are located within the atria, enabling staff and researchers to informally meet and interact whilst enjoying views across the campus and city beyond. An adaptable ‘flex zone’ connects offices with more private, technical and specialist laboratory spaces.

The Institute’s facade, designed with NBBJ’s bespoke software, reflects the internal operation of the building. Computational tools generate greater visual transparency to more ‘open’ functions such as local collaboration hubs and less transparency to controlled laboratory environments, creating a dynamic and modulated building appearance.

President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said:

“The University is honoured to be the lead partner of the Royce Institute and home to its national hub. The Royce is a beacon for both research and application in this critical field and, as its Chief Scientist and our Regius Professor of Materials, Phil Withers, likes to say it is a national meeting place for UK advanced materials. That meeting place can be physical, of course, as demonstrated by this wonderful hub building but, as well giving us access to such impressive facilities, it also facilitates the bringing together of committed people to share their innovative thinking about new materials.”

Mel Manku, Partner at Arcadis, said:

“Arcadis is delighted to have reached this significant milestone on what has been a complex but exciting development. Our approach has seen our team of experts working closely with the University and the wider community to understand not just today’s research requirements, but also what they might need in the future. This has enabled the design and delivery of a facility that is future proofed to accommodate changing trends in research and collaborative working. Together with the recently completed Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, this will further enhance Manchester and the wider Northern Powerhouse’s status as a global hub for advanced material research.”

Tom Higgins, Laing O’Rourke’s Operations Leader, said:

“It has been fantastic continuing our partnership with The University of Manchester delivering this state of the art facility. Our teams have used considerable engineering expertise and innovation to reach this milestone and I am incredibly proud of their efforts. We look forward to continuing to focus our efforts on meeting the handover date in spring 2020.”

Ingo Braun, Design Director at NBBJ, said:

“It is truly inspiring to work with the University and the Henry Royce Institute to facilitate and advance the UK’s ground-breaking materials science research, providing a facility for the Institute to engage with the wider community. NBBJ has extensive experience in designing workplaces and laboratory facilities around the world and we have particularly enjoyed utilising innovative methods, including our own virtual reality tool developed in-house, to inform a collaborative design process with the project stakeholders.”

Work on the new Henry Royce Institute is expected to be completed and the building fully operational by spring 2020.

Project and Cost Management is provided by Arcadis; Civil and Structural Engineering by Ramboll; Building Services Engineering by ARUP; Landscape Architecture by Gilllespies and the Main Contractor is Laing O’Rourke.