Progress video of one of our major projects

A time-lapse video showing progress of a typical large scale project, from ground clearance to completion.

Click here to view the video.

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Dairy Crest

Dairy Crest had identified the need for a new QC building to support their cheese manufacturing operations at their facility at Davidstow, Cornwall.

Due to the requirement to have the new facility operational early 2015. Dairy Crest had approached the supplier of a modular, prefabricated building to meet their identified needs.

On receipt of an initial design, Dairy Crest commissioned Austin to undertake a peer review of the design for the new modular facility. This review raised a number of suggestions to reflect the user  equirements and enhance the design to provide an optimum and more efficient layout to match the work flow patterns.

Parallel to this review, Austin reviewed alternative locations for the facility on the Davidstow site, to determine the best location to serve the ongoing manufacturing processes efficiently.

Following  the location study, a preferred location for the new QC building was identified and agreed. This enabled the final design for the new building, with respect to orientation, access, flows  and incoming utilities to be finalised.

The peer review of the original design for the new QC facility undertaken by Austin, identified a number of modifications to enhance the layout and provide a  more economical and efficient building to suit QC operations. Austin were able to draw upon their experience from similar completed QC facilities to test, and then improve the design. This also  included a detailed review of equipment to be incorporated into the new facility, which included detailed equipment layouts, servicing, access and environmental requirements.

Design  enhancements included replanning the internal layout to better reflect people and material flows around the building and physically separating the plant (HVAC) area from laboratory areas to minimise adverse effects on sensitive scientific equipment from vibration.

Following the peer review exercise, Austin were commissioned to undertake the detailed design and construction of the new 260m², single story modular laboratory. Austin worked in close liaison  with the chosen modular building supplier, with the internal fit-out being governed by key dimensions of the modular building units.

Accommodation included staff entry, sample receipt, microbiology (ACDP 2), wet chemistry, instrument and flame free laboratories, together with chemical and consumables stores, office and staff welfare facilities. Austin provided full architectural, mechanical, electrical and structural design together with project and construction management during the build.

“Austin brought a customer focus to our project, listening to our requirements and providing expertise which has added value to the end result. I have been impressed with their ability to deliver, attention to detail and quality of build”. – Paul O’Neill, Procurement Controller, Dairy Crest Limited.

Medical Research Council, Gambia

MRC Keneba is a rural field station situated in the Kiang West region of The Gambia and houses the Nutrition Group of the MRC Laboratories in Gambia.

The field station provides out-patient based services, midwifery and nursing care concentrating primarily on maternal and child health.

The station also has research laboratories, clinical diagnostics, data processing, physiology study and obstetrics.

The expansion of research and demand for services has led to the requirement for additional research laboratories and clinical facilities and meeting room facilities, together with new housing  provisions.

The success of the facility has also had an impact on the number of visitors and research students visiting the unit. The meeting facilities also need expansion in order to support this increase in  activity.

Austin architectural, building services and structural team carried out a site inspection and survey and developed the design with the users from concept through to detail design, specifications  and construction information.

The development area within the site is relatively limited so a phased implementation of new and expanded facilities is envisaged. The provision of a new incinerator adjacent to existing  workshops will provide the enabling work.

A new visitor housing unit will occupy the old incinerator site, which will then release space at the front of the side for the expansion of existing laboratory facilities, clinic and data offices. The  expansion of the existing meeting room building forms part of the development strategy.

Existing Research and Clinic upgrade modifications and expansion of the existing ground floor accommodation will create a larger open plan laboratory with access from within the building in  order to reduce contamination from outside.

A new, enlarged delivery suite will be constructed, observation room added and toilet and shower provision increased. GP’s will be provided with separate consulting rooms.

On the First Floor the internal walls to corridor and within offices will be removed to provide a large, light space for the data entry. The first  floor will be expanded to incorporate a tissue culture laboratory and microbiological laboratory.

The existing bungalow adjacent to the laboratory will be re-modelled to provide a larger store for the laboratory consumables, a freezer store, autoclave and glass wash area as well as an office for a  store manager.

Seminar Building: The current meeting room will be extended to meet the increase in demand. The extension will accommodate up to 100 people and incorporate an acoustic dividing wall to  increase flexibility. The offices will be extended in order to move activities from the research building.

Bio Products Laboratory Ltd

Bio Products Laboratory Ltd. (BPL) is a manufacturer of a wide range of plasma products located in Elstree near London. There was a need to upgrade an existing sterile injectable production facility comprising Grade B & C environments to facilitate a new filling line installation in a live operational facility.

This entailed a detailed planning requiring two shut-downs:

  • Shutdown 1 – to isolate both the critical and non-critical systems and areas requiring modification to accommodate the fill line delivery, installation and assembly – four weeks.
  • Shutdown 2 – to reconnect the systems when the fill line had been delivered, installed and assembled – 12 days.

The construction was phased to facilitate:

  • isolation from the rest of the facility and systems from the area and systems requiring modifications for the installation of the new fill line
  • the facility construction and fit out modifications in between shutdowns
  • reconnection of fill line working area
  • validation of the modifications to the facility and critical systems for interim manufacture between shutdowns.

Austin assembled an experienced team with knowledge and skills of delivering such complex technical projects. This allowed the works to be planed in detail for the execution of the requirements within very tight time constraints.

The scope of works was developed to ensure a workable solution involving shut downs was robust. This identified the work to be done, the cost and programme.

On approval, detailed design and engineering was undertaken of all phased building modifications including the building and equipment services and the controls integration between the fill line and the facility’s critical systems.

The site team was then able to perform the works within the constraints and meet each of the shutdown dates.

Shutdown 1 was completed on time allowing the phase 2 works to progress.

Careful project planning covering the shutdowns allowed future phases to take place in isolation of validated services, critical utilities and sterile production areas.

The scope of the design included reviewing the impact of the new fill line in terms of controls through to system capacities, peak demands and diversity.

“The Austin team met and exceeded our expectation in delivering this important project from design through to validation and hand over – thank you” – Bill Lewis, Head of Projects, Bio Products Laboratory Limited

Medical Research Council, Gambia

The Himsworth Laboratory in the MRC’s Gambia Unit operates as the Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL) for the World Health Organisation’s Invasive Bacterial Vaccine- Preventable Diseases (IB-VPD) surveillance network. It supports more referring countries than any other RRL in the network and represents the African region.

Due to increasing workloads and multiple scientific  work streams including microbiology, molecular biology and DNA extraction the MRC appointed The Austin Company to provide an urgent solution to enhance their existing facility in the  shortest possible time scale to meet these expanding needs.

Working within the limitations of an existing building the client brief and practical considerations had to achieve several objectives:

  • To improve materials, samples and personnel flow movement between the laboratory spaces.
  • Provide additional space to help the scientists improve their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • Introduce additional containment to the existing laboratories to prevent contamination.
  • Enhance the ventilation to the laboratories.
  • The solutions had to be kept simple, resilient and easily maintainable given the geographical location, tropical climate conditions and limited material supply chains.
  • The solution also had  to be implemented in the shortest possible quickly to meet the client’s pressing needs.

The solution proposed an extension onto two sides of the existing laboratory building forming a new circulation corridor and new change lobbies to the various laboratory spaces. New ventilation  air handling units, associated air conditioning and plant enclosures to house the equipment were designed to provide better ventilation and manage correct airflow regimes to the laboratories.

The  new corridor as well as meeting the objectives also acts as a positive pressure air supply plenum to maintain  the correct air flow direction to the laboratories, whilst minimising ingress of hot and humid external air into the building thus minimising supply air distribution ductwork.

The Austin Company provided a multi-disciplinary design including, architecture, structural, mechanical and electrical. The Austin Company also provided project management support working  collaboratively with the local Gambian client management team and building contractors during tender and construction.

The project required flexibility and a collaborative ethos by all parties to overcome unique challenges and was completed in December 2013.

“Many thanks for your hard work on this project. It is somewhat unusual to manage a project remotely, but you have done very well and I am really grateful for yours and your colleagues work. I  had the opportunity to see the work when I was out there and was very impressed!” Susan Simon, Head of Projects, Medical Research Council.


Due to increased pressures on their existing quality assurance (QA) facility, Cadbury identified a need to create a new, state of the art facility that would provide both a QA focus and a “centre of excellence” at their historic Bournville manufacturing site.

The new facility would be capable of increasing through-put, and include multiple laboratories to undertake differing activities whilst maintaining required control and segregation. The facility would comply with the latest QA principles, meet the latest regulatory standards, be physically separate from the main manufacturing complex and be capable of future expansion should the need arise.

To optimise utilisation, the new facility had to be designed to allow minimal disruption during maintenance to the critical environments and ongoing scientific activities.

Cadbury commissioned The Austin Company to provide its experience and expertise in the review, design and construction of the new QA facility and to ensure that during the design and construction works, critical ongoing site operations were maintained without disruption.

The Austin Company’s commission was to carry out a concept study followed by Preliminary Engineering Study and concluded with detailed design and construction of the new state-of-the-art facility.

The building has a footprint of 720m² and incorporates a concrete mezzanine plant floor over the office and stores area. The laboratories have an accessible walk-on ceiling which is accessed from the plant mezzanine. This allows unhindered service distribution to the laboratory areas above ceiling level.

A centralised air handling plant provides conditioned air to the microbiology laboratories which employs a cascade pressure regime for containment. Constant volume boxes are employed on branches with terminal HEPA filtration to maintain the desired room pressure regimes.

Energy savings are achieved on the HVAC system using an indirect runaround coil arrangement and high efficiency modular boiler serving a variable volume heating system.

There are two microbiological and one analytical laboratories. The microbiology laboratories are designed as Containment Level 2 (CL2) which are positively segregated, with individual change lobbies equipped with sample pass through hatches. The building is configured to support the analysis and test flow with each laboratory layout reflecting the particular function requirements.

The electrical services included:

  • High electrical load density requiring HV supply distributed by a packaged HV/LV substation switchboard.
  • Clean room/laboratory requiring easily cleanable luminaires and accessories.
  • Security comprising intruder detection and CCTV surveillance.
  • Access control system to selected doors to create segregated secure zones within the building.
  • Fire detection to P1/L1 category for property and life protection.
  • BMS, security, CCTV, dire & sata services which are linked to the central site facility for monitoring.

Austin’s efforts were complemented with an award from Birmingham City Council in association with The Chartered Institute of Building and the Centre for Construction Excellence, for the Best Built-in Quality Project in Birmingham.

Central Veterinary Laboratories, Weybridge

To meet the standards of its own Directorate of Veterinary Medicine, as well as those of the European Union, CVL (formerly MAFF), upgraded a laboratory building that functions as a Biological Production Operation.

The renovated building contains facilities for media preparation and sterile processing. It also houses culture and incubation areas, cold rooms and microbiology and chemistry laboratories. Other areas are provided for wash-up, labelling and packaging.

The facility’s clean rooms were designed to achieve Grade B of the EU Guide to Good Manufacturing Practice for Medicinal products.

Two of the four sterile suites were designed to create aseptic environments to contain Category 3 pathogens by negative pressure. The other two suites, used for media preparation and filling, are maintained under positive pressure.

A pressure cascade functioning throughout adjacent areas attains Grade C and Grade D levels of cleanliness.

The Austin Company designed, engineered and constructed the entire renovation project. Austin also provided project management services for the validation of both the facility and its production equipment.

In addition, Austin purchased and installed specialty equipment including autoclaves, safety cabinets, centrifuge, filling machine, drying oven, mobile mixing tanks and clean-in-place systems.

Cancer Research UK – Biotherapeutics Development Facility (BDU) – South Mimms

crukw1Cancer Research UK – Biotherapeutics Development Facility (BDU) – South MimmsThe BDU in South Mimms, Hertfordshire is designed specifically for the production of early phase clinical to cGMP. Biotherapeutics are at the cutting edge of new cancer treatments, and in order to achieve significant advances, the very best and most advanced facilities are required. This replacement for an existing unit is therefore a hugely exciting development for the charity.

The 2,000m² building contains GMP production (mammalian microbial/years, viral technologies), GMP support, final fill process, assay development, QC laboratories, stores, utilities and offices.

The design incorporates significant improvements in personnel and materials flow, equipment reliability, planned maintenance, process efficiency, scheduling, office space, information flow, roles and responsibilities while being versatile scalable and flexible.

The facility includes classified areas of about 300m² on the main production floor with mezzanines for air handling equipment and a basement area for utilities.

The building air leakage test achieved 3.3m³ / hour / m² @ 50pa which is an excellent result as best practice allows this figure to be below 10.

The carbon emissions calculated indicate the building to be an Energy Efficient Building.

Gillian Lewis, Programme Lead said, “Austin was selected to design and engineer this project after an exhaustive selection process, in part because we felt they could match our requirements with a team we could work with.

The successful delivery of the build on-time and ahead of budget has provided a state of the art facility which allows Cancer Research UK to expand research in the years to come.

Austin delivered the development of this building with savings in excess of £1 million.”

The Austin Company is proud and delighted to have won Cancer Research UK’s Best Supplier Award for 2009.

  • architecture
  • mechanical
  • electrical
  • structural
  • public health
  • construction
  • management