S-Labs Awards 2015

Despite the hurdle of building controls and the age of the building the School of Chemistry has successfully refurbished 7 old and tired individual labs into a large multi-occupancy chemical synthesis laboratory resourced with 13 VAV fume hoods, high standard ventilated cabinets for solvents and chemicals, recirculating chillers, and centrally supplied house gases (Ar, N2 and HP air).

Chemical Synthesis Laboratory: New Life for the UK's First Purpose Built Chemistry Building

Local authority planning problems overcome by replacing existing extract ducts with new, slightly larger ones.


  • 13 low volume, VAV controlled fume cupboards for energy saving.
  • All fume cupboards fitted with emergency purge buttons to set all extract fans to full on initiation.
  • Spare gas lines run around lab connected to all fume cupboards to future-proof gas requirements.
  • Glazed screens at either end of lab to give full view of lab operation from outwith.
  • Vacuum pumps installed in ventilated cupboards below all fume cupboards to limit noise and operated from fume cupboard mounted switches.
  • Make-up air to lab supplied through fabric diffusers to limit air velocities which low flow fume cupboards are particularly sensitive to.
  • Make-up air supplied from 3 off ceiling hung variable speed air handling units responding to demand.
  • The small individual labs have been effectively unified into one large continuous space through the formation of new openings between each former small lab to give continuous vistas along the length of the new space. This has created a clear visual link from the adjacent offices through the labs which enhances the safe working practices of the users and allows constant supervision. The necessary support structure has been set out in such a way as to be visually unobtrusive.
  • A very minimalist approach has been taken to the finishes within the laboratory utilising existing finishes where possible. New finishes such as the flooring and worktops have been carefully selected to be robust, made from renewable/sustainable materials and with low VOC emissions to be as sustainable and environmentally neutral as is possible.
  • The servicing is fully exposed and visible to allow for full flexibility in future alterations/modifications to cater for the ever changing requirements of lab users and researchers alike.
  • Under bench units and storage cupboards have been designed to be movable/portable to allow for maximum flexibility of use within the labs.
  • Chilled water units are plumbed into all VAV fume hoods and rotary evaporators
  • All chemicals and solvents stored in ventilated fire approved containment cupboards