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World-leading nanoscience and quantum research facility, constructed in the heart of Bristol



HIGHLIGHTS

  • Close engagement with end-users to meet demanding hi-tech specification.
  • Heavy reinforced concrete structure embedded into rock sub-strata.
  • Vibration and acoustic noise levels among the lowest anywhere in the world.
  • Basement with 600 mm to 1400 mm thick reinforced concrete slabs and walls.
  • Anti-vibration materials throughout to contain interface and penetrations.
  • Constructed on a live university campus in the centre of Bristol.

Willmott Dixon was appointed by the University of Bristol to construct the Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, a heavy and robust multi-storey reinforced concrete structure embedded into the stable rock sub-strata in the heart of the city.

The 1,620 sq m, three storey facility, which also includes basement laboratories, has a roof mounted plant room and extended high level stair access tower. Our contract included fit out of laboratories, teaching rooms, offices and circulation areas.

The building provides a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research facility drawn from science, engineering and medicine across the world.

The centre, which contains an anechoic chamber, clean rooms and wet, optical and low-vibration laboratories, is used to develop communications and health technologies, as well as advanced materials for the aerospace industry.

The laboratories have vibration and acoustic noise levels which are among the lowest achieved anywhere in the world (vibration criteria VC-G).

Innovations

Structure:

  • Reinforced concrete frame with flat two way spanning slabs and ‘in depth’ continuous beams spanning onto reinforced concrete columns (both 450 mm thick).
  • Stability is further improved by reinforced concrete shear walls which enhance the lateral and longitudinal stiffness, reducing the movement and vibration.
  • Class 4 basement, with 600 mm to 1400 mm thick reinforced concrete slabs and walls.
  • The concrete is waterproof with additive, hydrophilic strips and injected resin.
  • Low frequency recessed isolation block, constructed of concrete reinforced with polypropylene fibres to achieve a frequency not greater than 8hz.
  • Lift structurally isolated from the research laboratories.

Finishes:

  • Anti-vibration materials adopted throughout to contain interface and penetrations.
  • Self-cleaning glass installed which adopts nanoparticles to break down dirt that is then washed away by rainwater.
  • Flood prevention due to the potential for leaks from ongoing experiments, was incorporated within the floor systems with associated warning provisions.
  • Acoustic closures to the laboratory doors were adopted to ensure controlled closure and to mitigate any electro interference.
  • Metal ceiling system with a requirement for no shedding or dusting to occur throughout the building.
  • Aluminium coverings where applied to the walls and soffits, lapped and sealed to create faraday cage effects to each laboratory to minimise electromagnetic interferences.
  • Echo and reverberation is minimised through careful selection of internal finishes which also offers simple and efficient cleaning provisions.

Building services:

  • Temperature control maintained within the laboratories by local units, controlled by the user.
  • Services isolated outside each laboratory for total control and influence of vibrations within the working spaces.
  • High voltage cables, from the sub-station were carefully located to reduce any electromagnetic interference with the laboratories.