The new-build laboratory and clinical teaching facility for the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the NHS is the first building located on the developing Norwich Research Park and adjacent to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The building’s research facilities are targeted at improving patient care whilst the clinical teaching areas are focussed on providing authentic healthcare learning environments for the University’s Medical School. The design of the building equally fulfils both institutions’ needs, creating a truly collaborative and forward thinking research building.
The Western Red Cedar clad building shelters a sunny south facing courtyard that looks towards the original UEA campus and NNUH and provides a safe approach and sense of place for the building’s occupants whilst the NRP site around them is developed. The main entrance is characterised by a generously lit atrium, animated by the building’s shared café at ground level and the sweeping staircase that joins both wings of the building above. It is these two communal spaces that foster collaboration encouraging all disciplines and visitors of the building to come together.
Other facilities include a 200-seat lecture theatre, multiple seminar rooms and clinical skills suites for undergraduate medical students. For post graduate research the building provides large open plan offices and write-up areas and extensive laboratories and technical support spaces. This will allow researchers to explore new treatments for diseases from prostate and antibiotic resistance, to muscular-skeletal and gastrointestinal diseases.
The project has been delivered on a modest budget, with the focus on creating spaces which perform well and architecture which inspires quality for both institutions and the emerging masterplan. The user’s technical requirements have been balanced by the inclusion of generous floor to ceiling heights, floods of natural daylight and exciting use of colour. Provision of natural light and environmental comfort control is optimised to all areas and has been considered extensively in those areas where it impacts occupant productivity and performance levels.
Due to limitations on budget and programme the project team continually explored potential cost saving methods in both materials and construction; value management reviews were undertaken at key stages of the project to ensure the budget remained on target. For example the building’s external envelope has been constructed from a metsec infill walling system with the outer timber rainscreen cladding system being developed in the workshop and bulk-delivered to site for fast and effective erection. Furthermore, the team worked with the University’s preferred suppliers where possible to make sure expenditure was as competitive as it could be.
The project was delivered under a 2-stage D&B procurement route. Honest communication streams were established early within the contractor team to ensure the team could go beyond the client’s expectations and deliver an exceptional quality building and public realm that sets a strong precedent for future development on the NRP site.