The Pirbright Institue | NBBJ Architects
Challenging the norms of traditional labs.
The Jenner Institute takes a unique approach to its work. A partnership between the University of Oxford and The Pirbright Institute, it aims to develop innovative vaccines against major global diseases by focusing on both diseases of humans and livestock. The overriding design principle of its Jenner Building project was to achieve a robust and safe laboratory for in-vitro research on infectious pathogens in a CL2 environment. Added to this, the client wanted to bring together a number of scientific work streams into a flexible, inviting, and collaborative workspace.
The client expected us to challenge the norms associated with traditional laboratory environments, especially where it affects energy consumption. In collaboration with the sustainability team and the architect, we first developed the form and massing of the building to minimise incidental heat gains from environmental factors. This reduced the demand required of the building’s energy systems and helped us develop a low-energy solution for heating, cooling, and ventilation.
We incorporated a number of innovative design solutions. An array of photovoltaic cells work in conjunction with an air-source heat pump. Added to this, carefully designed glazing and shading, and a sophisticated mixed-mode natural ventilation system achieve a significant reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. We also crafted a modular MEP strategy for the laboratories that allows for the future expansion and sub-division of the spaces – meeting the brief for flexibility perfectly. Ultimately, our robust MEP strategy developed at the outset set the parameters for the detailed design, ensuring a clear access and distribution strategy for our client – a simple yet effective approach.