The £4.4 million, 680 m2 building will house two laboratories with bench space for 216 students, and will be shared between the Lancaster Environment Centre and the Biological Life Sciences department at Lancaster University. 

The flexible design means that up to four classes can be taught at one time in the two laboratories, with up to 12 students clustered around double benches, having access to monitor screens and speakers which are controlled from four teaching stations.

Ancillary facilities will include cold store rooms, a plant growth room, preparation rooms, a muffle furnace room, 12 fume cupboards, storage space and office space for technical staff. Lockers will be provided in a circulation area so students can follow best practice and leave their coats and bags outside the labs.

“The laboratories are much more modern than the ones they are replacing, with the ancillary spaces integrated around the outside of the labs rather than in different parts of the building,” said Andy Quin, Buildings and Facilities Superintendent at the Lancaster Environment Centre. 

“The whole thing will operate more efficiently and give a real taste of working in an up-to-date modern facility, as well as being much nearer to the main Lancaster Environment Centre buildings.”

The laboratories will be used mainly for undergraduate teaching and project work, with some masters level work also taking place there.

The building, designed by architects ADP (Manchester) and being built by Harry Fairclough Construction, is due to be completed by the end of January 2015. It is aiming for stringent ‘BREEAM excellent’ environmental standards covering aspects like the sustainability of the materials used, insulation levels and the proximity of bicycle storage.

On the outside there will be a decorative ‘Living Wall’ covered in vegetation. A series of individual growing units spread across the surface of the wall will contain plants, which are fed through a pumping system that distributes water and nutrients to the vegetation.