The new Mountbatten Building is a £55m 10,000 sq m four-storey concrete framed building, housing a world-class interdisciplinary clean room and associated laboratories, together with offices and meeting rooms. The accommodation provides state-of-the-art, flexible, interdisciplinary space which has been designed specifically to meet the long term needs of the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) for research in nanotechnology and photonics and is a key element in maintaining the University's global reputation for world-leading research in these areas.
The striking new building, which has risen from the ashes of the fire that destroyed its predecessor in October 2005, received a prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award, which are given for buildings that have high architectural standards and make a substantial contribution to the local environment. RIBA judges liked its "simple, dynamic forms" and said the design allowed it to "embody 21st century scientific research in a sustainable, academic setting."
The building is also one of Europe's leading multidisciplinary and state-of-the-art clean room complexes. Although clean rooms are heavy energy users by their nature, the architects Jestico + Whiles were able to achieve an intelligent design via a number of key features:
- use of the campus wide CHP system
- utilising evaporative free cooling
- naturally ventilated office spaces with further cooling provided via underfloor pipework which circulates recycled chilled water which also provides heating in winter
- naturally lit clean rooms
- exposed concrete soffits with thermal mass which helps to reduce diurnal temperature variations
- solar control coatings on the windows and horizontal aluminium brise-soleils to reduce excessive solar gain
- rain water harvesting, and green and brown roofs which promote bio-diversity.
The result is a building which the engineers predict will consume 65% less energy than a typical comparable scheme of this type. Both inside and outside, with its laboratories, flexible meeting spaces, and impressively spacious atrium, the Mountbatten Building makes a statement.
The design is bold and modern, the building's glass curtain walls - graced by a mathematical fractal pattern - enable those outside to view the research taking place in the clean rooms.
Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of ECS, comments: "The stunning design of the building matches our claim to be cutting-edge and state-of-the-art, and is a fitting home for the world-leading research it will facilitate."
Professor David Payne, Director of the ORC, adds: "This magnificent clean room building is unique and world-leading in its imaginative vision for the integration of nanoscience, photonics and optical fibre technology. With the fire well and truly behind us, we can rebuild our reputation as the foremost photonics centre in the world."