PIRBRIGHT INSTITUTE, Surrey, England
A LABORATORY FOR LIVING
In the countryside of Sussex, England, a new containment facility for the Pirbright Institute will revolutionize the way people work with viral diseases effecting animal and human health. The design ushers in a new paradigm for Category 4 bio-containment (similar to USBSL-3 enhanced) in which researchers work in labs and offices with large windows and expansive views, gather in an open light-filled atrium, and eat in the cafeteria—all within the containment boundary. A radical departure from traditional bunker-like containment facilities, this new model is safer, enhances research productivity, and is exponentially more comfortable and pleasant for researchers and staff. Arguably the most spectacular space in the new facility—and unheard of in a containment facility–is the glass three-story atrium topped by a glass oculus with views to the sky. On the ground floor, the atrium is not within the containment barrier, but visitors have views to containment spaces. Shared, unassigned write-up space is located on the first floor, within the containment barrier, and offers views through the atrium to other floors.
The new facility was sited to create an entirely new entrance and entrance sequence to the Institute’s campus, and to take advantage of the expansive views to a forested ravine to the south. Further, the exterior materials were selected for their strong visual impact to reinforce the revolutionary nature of this facility—and in particular, to move away from conventional, sterile containment environments. The use of wood timber paneling, multi-colored window casings, transparent glass panels, and a carefully detailed metal brise-soleil were all selected to create a place that enhances researchers’ lives, and helps to brand the Pirbright Insitute as a new, vibrant place to work.