The power of conversation


13 September 2018 16:20
Colleagues and collaborators gather to the official opening of the Lancaster Environment Centre courtyard

The opening of a refurbished social space in the heart of the Lancaster Environment Centre should be a catalyst for generating cutting edge ideas and collaborations.

The upgraded and enlarged courtyard space is intended as a place where chance and planned interactions can happen between some of the top researchers in the environmental field.

It was jointly funded by Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), which has laboratories and research staff based within the Lancaster Environment Centre.

Opening the courtyard, Professor Peter Atkinson, the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Lancaster University, called the refurbishment “potentially transformational.”

“This space is intended to support collaboration and integration: it is a social space but actually much more than that. I think it could be one of the premier places on the planet where cutting edge ideas will emerge.”

Professor Mark Bailey, Director of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, praised the “remarkable transformation’ of the space. He asked staff from both organisations who attended the opening to make good use of it.

“I encourage all of you, whether you are a member of staff, a professor or a student, to use this space to have lunch and coffee. The opportunities for all of us in environmental science have never been greater and the opportunities generated through the Lancaster Environment Centre are plain to see.”

Both speakers thanked the team who had worked on the refurbishment including: architects William Mason; Professors Kevin Jones and Phil Barker, past and current directors of the Lancaster Environment Centre; Professor Alan Jenkins, the deputy director of CEH; Mark Swindlehurst, former director of estates at Lancaster University and his team; Andy Quin, faculty technical director; and all other staff involved in the project.

Features of the new courtyard include: a glazed roof, designed to capture daylight and distribute it evenly across the atrium; water-based earthborn clay paint that is virtually VOC free and carries the EU Ecolabel; 100% recyclable flooring laid though out and fabric coverings made from 100% recycled materials; and a high tech ventilation system that will maintain an even temperature all year round. 

The courtyard is filled with a wide variety of plant species, including a 250-year-old olive tree, which fill a number of wooden planters throughout the area. Some of which are mobile, allowing the space to be adapted for a number of different uses.

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