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SERSF Building, Penryn

The Science and Engineering Research Facility for Exeter University brings together the study of business, science, and engineering in one building.

The first of a three-phase development at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, the two storey SERSF building has been designed to accommodate research facilities and laboratories for offshore renewables and bioscience academics for the Centre of Ecology and Conservation, enabling an expansion of the research into these fields which has been attracting significant research grants for the University.

The building also provides a home for the University of Exeter Business School, with a specially designed area for business engagement called ‘The Collaboratory’, designed to facilitate the development of long-term research projects with selected local business partners. These dual aspects of the building’s programme have been designed to encourage interdisciplinary practice, new conversations, and partnerships.

Exposed concrete and extensive solar shading help to keep the building thermally stable, with all the major spaces designed to be capable of being either naturally or mechanically ventilated with chilled beam cooling. This approach allows both minimal use of energy, but with long-term flexibility should the building’s function change in the future. The flat roof has been utilised for photovoltaic distribution along with a zone for open-air research. Material finishes have been carefully chosen for their environmental impact and to enhance the building’s identity on the campus. The building has been designed to a BREEAM Excellent rating, indicating its high level of environmental sustainability overall.

The SERSF was jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£3.9 million) and the University of Exeter (£1.6 million). The next two phases of the project will each be of a similar size, with ‘knuckles’ between the buildings providing informal hubs that further the intentions of multidisciplinary interchange. The resultant asymmetrical plan arrangement will provide for a spine of individual office and write -up space adjacent to large flexible open plan research areas.

Project Team

Client: University of Exeter
Lead Architect: Burwell Architects
Project Manager: Turner & Townsend
Structural Engineer: Hydrock
Services Engineer: Method Consulting
Fire Engineer: Hoare Lea
Main Contractor: Midas Construction

Project Data

Gross Internal Area: 1,200 sqm
Construction: 2013-15
Form of Contract: Design & Build