Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Council (MRC) requested Austin to undertake an option study report (RIBA stages A & B) to look at the potential for expanding the existing Mary Lyon Centre on their Harwell Campus. The study was to ascertain the most appropriate way of accommodating the users’ identified requirements which included additional research facilities with support laboratories and ancillary facilities.

The study reviewed a number of options, including looking at the refurbishment of an existing building, a new build solution and extending the existing MLC building. On completion of the option  study, Austin was commissioned to undertake a RIBA stage C report to develop the identified preferred option.

The preferred solution was the creation of an extension to the existing MLC to provide the additional accommodation identified as well as incorporating flexible facilities for the future. The new extension, with a footprint area of 2,750m², has been designed to incorporate state of the art energy saving systems.

The extension includes eight separate research suites, as well as a breakout area and change/shower facilities. The support laboratory areas include twelve 6m² ‘flexi-labs’ designed to incorporate  electromagnetic shielding in the form of inbuilt individual faraday cage enclosures.

The extension has been designed with a similar architectural language to the existing MLC. The provision of brise soleil to the elevation adds to the articulation of the façade, humanises the  external scale of the building, and is integral to the energy reduction strategy adopted for the new building.

Included are three flexible wards in the centre of the building. These can be utilised for various research activities. This built in flexibility allows for current and anticipated mid-term business expansion needs.

Structurally, the building is designed with a minimum of 11 metres between column spacings allowing larger free spaces to be created. This allows long term flexibility and the ability to match existing research suite typology if redeployment and additional refurbishment of other areas of the extension is required in the future.

Mechanically, the systems have been designed such that the ventilation for the general well-being of the operatives is considered separately from that of the internal process needs. The
general ventilation incorporates a demand load control system. The process ventilation complies with both Home Office guidance and European directives. This allows for some relaxation in the tolerances applied to the tightness of air control delivered to the general ventilation system, with the ability to vary volume, temperature, and humidity outside of the normal guidance. This leads  o a predicted 50% reduction in energy costs.

As well as the separate process and general ventilation, the project includes solar hot water panels and a biomass boiler feeding back into the existing heating system. This makes use of on-site  waste and makes provision for future grey-water utilisation in proposed landscaping works.

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