Sheppard Robson encloses Bristol University labs in aluminium

Rippling aluminium fronts Bristol university laboratories by Sheppard Robson

Wavy panels of anodised aluminium conceal ventilation channels within the facade of this university science facility in Bristol, England, by British architecture firm Sheppard Robson (+ slideshow).

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

The Bristol Life Sciences Building was designed by Sheppard Robson to provide new teaching labs, formal and informal learning spaces, a communal atrium and a bio-sciences library for the University of Bristol.

The facility is located on the university's campus in a conservation area and replaces the disused wards of a children's hospital, two blocks of houses and a 1960s building.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

In response to the historically sensitive location, the architects developed a proposal that separates the building into two parallel wings distinguished by differing aesthetic treatments.

"The architectural ambition of the project is to create a building that respects the neighbouring listed buildings and surrounding conservation area, whilst also adding a confident piece of contemporary design to Bristol," said a statement from Sheppard Robson.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

One wing accommodates offices and seminar rooms that require less space between floors than the laboratories, so the overall height could be reduced.

"The massing of this block is stepped in order to conceal the profile of the building when viewed from the city below," the architects added.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

Alternating surfaces of Bath stone and a lighter render enhance the division of this facade into a terraced row of vertical bays that references the area's residential architecture.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

The laboratories are housed in a larger block that faces the rest of the campus. Its facade is clad in an wavy surface of natural anodised aluminium.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

Ventilation ducts that draw air from the rooftop plant towards the laboratories are arranged along the facade and covered by the bulging metal panels.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

The space between the building's two wings is occupied by a full-height atrium. A glass roof helps to bring in plenty of light, creating a welcoming circulation and social area.

An array of meeting spaces incorporated in the atrium provide opportunities for improved interaction between researchers, staff, students and visitors.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson

Glazed walls create a visual connection between the laboratories, meeting rooms and adjacent circulation spaces.

The otherwise technical material palette of glass and metal is contrasted with brightly coloured surfaces and furniture.

Photography is by Fotohaus.

Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson
Site plan – click for larger image
Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Bristol University lab by Shepperd Robson
Second floor plan – click for larger image