Science Creates Old Market: scale up space for Bristol’s innovation

Constructing Excellence

What does the lab of the future look like?

Science Creates Old Market is a new innovation centre which has been delivered in partnership with University of Bristol and Research England. The project is a refurbished warehouse featuring laboratories, offices, conferencing space, and a foyer bar. It is a nationally significant project which is now home to some of the most cutting-edge companies in the UK. The Science Creates vision is for Bristol to be an internationally recognised deep-tech hub;  a place where scientific discoveries are translated into societal changing products, services and technologies. This building enables that vision: there are companies working here, growing and scaling their research in areas such as cancer therapeutics, vaccine development and robotics. The Science Minister, Head of UKRI, and the Department of BEIS visited in February this year and all agree—the UK needs more buildings like this.

Design from the bench up.

How do you make a 40m by 65m windowless box an enjoyable place to work? The scheme was designed at concept level by an in-house team and a close-knit focus group of scientists. It is truly designed by scientists for scientists, where the design team facilitated the vision and integrated lessons learnt from our first building, Science Creates St Philips (previously Unit DX). The building is a triple bayed portal frame with a horseshoe layout of labs that are wrapped with glazed write up spaces, facing the central bay which is a large naturally lit atrium. The rear of each lab connects to the stores through dirty corridors (movement of hazardous materials), and the front connect to clean corridors (movement of people) and the reception and bar. It has been designed for the end user, and the requirements of the cutting-edge companies based here. We have been generous with the size of labs, the social spaces, the materiality as well as thermal comfort specifications, which has made it a destination: members say it is an inspirational place to work.

Highlights include new curtain walling with red western cedar vertical fins, modern industrial and double height interiors, 58db internal glazed partitioning as well as bespoke CNC’d furniture and fittings throughout.

Accelerated Procurement: more time in the lab.

The in-house team coordinated the planning process and tender, then entered an accelerated design and build procurement process with a consultant design team. We worked closely with Old Market community association and with their support we received planning in under 8 weeks. The project was completed in 2 years, significantly quicker than many other innovation centres.

It takes a city to raise a start up.

The scheme is part of the temple quarter innovation district and was part of a winning grant by research England. This project ties in with the wider vision of the area to make temple meads and St Philips an area of creativity and scientific innovation.

Science Creates Old Market also features the Learning Lab; a community space for STEM education, inspiring young people to embark on a career in business and science, and home to our in-house educational charity.