Science and Engineering Research Support Facility, Cornwall

We helped design a new ‘BREEAM excellent’ research building which enables the University of Exeter to expand its business, marine and ecology work into Cornwall.

Science and Engineering Research Support Facility, Cornwall

The University of Exeter jointly owns and manages Penryn Campus in Cornwall with Falmouth University in an arrangement considered unique within the UK.

The new Science and Engineering Research Support Facility provides a base for the University of Exeter’s Business School as it expands its presence into Cornwall. The new building will also accommodate the university’s existing Marine Renewables team and its growing centre for Ecology and Conservation.

Hydrock provided the civil and structural engineering design of the facility and its supporting infrastructure up to RIBA Stage E, as well as delivering the final stages of the design for the design and build contractor.

The two-storey 1,200m² building comprises seven laboratory areas, three open plan work space research areas and 24 offices. It has achieved a BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’ – a measure of its environmental sustainability.

The client’s brief for a building that can accommodate future expansion and growth led to a structural engineering design that provides a simple and adaptable structural form with the ability to cater for different activities over time as its use changes. 

The structure is situated on a sloping site and has been built into the hillside using retaining walls. The superstructure comprises an in-situ reinforced concrete braced frame supporting flat slab floor and the roof structures. In order to reduce the amount of finishes required within the building, the first floor slab has been stepped and the in-situ reinforced concrete frame exposed wherever possible. A rational grid of columns was designed to provide clear open spaces, providing simple adaptability for future alterations.     

The research facility brings together pioneering business, science and engineering at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall. An important next step in the provision of academic skills and research excellence in the county, it enables the university to share the benefits of its expertise in business, marine renewables, and ecology and conservation with communities and businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.