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InfoLab 21, UK

Faulkner Browns Architects

The client’s mission statement was to design: “A Centre for excellence in ICT (Information Communications Technology) integrating computing Communications and ISS (Information Systems Services) to provide a world class focus for research, development and exploitation in the north west.”

Faulkner Browns lead the design team and delivered, in September 2004, on time and to budget (£10.25M), a landmark building to house the world class researchers and businesses within. This project was procured in partnership and embraced the principles of the ‘Rethinking construction’ agenda in terms of achieving best value solutions in relation to cost, quality and programme considerations.

Procured as Two Stage Design and Construct, early appointment of HBG as main contractor ensured an integrated team approach, and the equitable management of risk. The building is an exemplar of sustainable construction, a rare example of a Building Research Establishment BREEAM ‘excellent’ rated laboratory building, and one that embraces a holistic approach to sustainable design, maximising natural light and ventilation to all workspaces.

The first rate internal working environment and innovative planning strategies developed to support knowledge generation and team working, have led to Infolab 21 being shortlisted for the prestigious British Council for Offices awards.

This high quality working environment is essential to assist Infolab in attracting the highest calibre staff and research projects. The project’s design and design processes have recently featured as an exemplar, along side projects such as the Great Court roof, Kunsthaus Graz, the Eden project and the Bilbao Guggenheim, in Dr Peter Szalapaj’s new book ‘Contemporary Architecture and the Digital Design Process’ .

Infolab 21 forms the basis of Chapter 6 ‘The well Tempered Vision: Client as patron, Quality on demand’ where Szalapaj shows how Faulkner Brown's client focused philosophy and processes are optimised by a selective use of CAD where it can deliver most benefit to design development and delivery.

The project received strong support from Lancaster Council’s planning department throughout its conception and planning. The project was both in line with the development plans for Lancaster and sat closely with central government's plans for using universities as power houses for the knowledge economy. Infolab enables Lancaster University to offer its support to regional businesses, promote long term business growth, forge lasting business relationships and enhance economic prospects in the region.

The Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt, then SoS for Trade and Industry, said on opening the building ‘I was hugely impressed and excited by the opening of Infolab at Lancaster University. It is a striking example of exactly the kind of partnership we need between our great universities and the business community. We are facilitating that through our investment in science, our technology programme and our investment in innovation. That is how we will ensure that Britain remains one of the world leaders in high-technology manufacturing.‘

Materials and Methods of construction:
The building is predominantly narrow precast concrete composite floor plates, supported by a steel frame carefully designed to offer maximum service flexibility within a tight floor to floor height. The building workspaces are clad in traditionally welted prepatinated copper with bronze windows and articulated acoustic trickle vents.

Installed by Varla, the Copper external wall build up was generally as follows - 150mm structural liner tray (by others), 31mm s/w battens, 18mm plywood sheets with approximate 1mm traditionally vertically welted prepatinated copper sheet.

The public reception space conferencing and café link bridge are enclosed in curtain walling with expressed mullions. Service and circulation cores are clad in white split faced blockwork. The roof is predominantly single ply polymeric membrane, on tapered insulation.

Internally copper and bronze were used as high quality finishes in key areas. The reception pod was constructed to FB’s designs by Newcastle Joinery Interiors, with laquered bright copper adhered under pressure to the curved joinery formwork.



Lancaster University
Completion date: 
United Kingdom
Zip code: 
Lancaster University


Type of building: 
Industrial and agricultural
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Faulkner Browns Architects
Address & description: 
Dobson House Northumbrian Way Killingworth Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 6QW

Copper contractors

Varla UK

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