Jestico + Whiles was appointed lead architect for the new National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester in 2012, working closely with Sir Kostya Novoselov – who, along with Sir Andre Geim, first isolated graphene at The University of Manchester in 2004. The two were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
Located in the University Campus’ Science Quarter, the institute is housed in a compact 7,600m² five-storey building, with the main cleanroom located in the basement to achieve best vibration performance. The ceiling of the clean room is cleverly angled around its perimeter so that the scientists are visible to the public above from the pavement outside.
The building also includes a second cleanroom in addition to laser, optical, metrology and chemical laboratories, offices and ancillary accommodation such as a seminar room that opens out on to a roof terrace with a bio-diverse roof garden.
Offices and labs are intermixed on all floors to offer individual research teams the facilities needed to operate coherently in one area. These teams are expected to include industry partners that will collaborate on research with the University.
The building is enclosed by an economic inner skin comprising a composite cladding panel system that provides weather tightness and thermal insulation and accommodates flush windows and other openings as required.
Fixed to the outside of this inner skin is a separate, stainless steel ‘veil’ which wraps around the volumes of the disparate elements of the building continuously to provide a unifying texture and coherent, fluid shape.
The ‘veil’ is made of hundreds of black mirror stainless steel panels, each one containing thousands of perforations that make up the equations used in graphene research.
Photo credits: Hufton + Crow, Daniel Shearing