UCL Centre for Respiratory Biology \

Creating collaborative working environment for researchers looking into new ways of treating lung cancer

State of the art contemporary research laboratories and office refurbishment for the Centre of Respiratory Biology at UCL Rayne Building.

The Rayne Building is located on University Street within the UCL Campus in north-west Bloomsbury. The building was constructed in 1976, comprising of purpose-built research laboratories for medical research.

The appointment of the new Dean provided UCL with the ideal opportunity to consolidate all respiratory research groups to form a new collaborative Centre for Respiratory Biology. Co-location of the Respiratory Biology Group, Centre for Inflammation and Tissue Repair and Lungs for Living is believed to enable the formation of a more integrated new research centre.

The Challenge

One of the major challenges was to design a highly specialised research facility that would accommodate 70 researchers within an existing floor plate, and allow long term flexibility as methods of research change and research groups fluctuate in size. A flexible 3x3m module was developed which could work either as a 2 person principle investigators office, a four person PHD student workspace or a meeting room. This was fully lined in timber to allow for a quiet working environment and a visual contrast to the more functional and striking monochromatic lab areas.

The Big Idea

The whole floor plate was stripped out and most of the internal partitions were demolished to allow as much natural daylight as possible. Where partitions were required in the new scheme these were installed in full height glass.

The Small Detail

A new graphic identity was developed for the centre which started at the reception as an image which compliments the new tri-ply reception desk and storage unit.

Working From the Inside Out

The interior design strategy has been developed alongside the space planning exercise from an early stage of the design to ensure the design concept is well integrated with the interior proposal. The overall palette of materials of the building shifts from the very functional high performance synthetic materials of the laboratories, to a progressively warmer palette with diversity of natural materials in the write up and office area for contrast and better comfort.

  • Project Details
  • Lessons Learnt
  • Materials
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

Lessons Learnt

The new proposal looks at allocating space by functional requirements rather than by department or group thus making it flexible to cope with future fluctuation in number of researchers. The intention was to create a flexible, highly efficient model research environment, with clear separation between office and lab space. The proposal also re-balanced the office / lab ratio, making sure sufficient space was provided for the nature of research requiring most of the users to have dedicated space in both areas.


Bamboo flooring and Bamboo plywood brings new aesthetic to the offices and specialist joinery. It’s smooth texture and dense grain pattern shows up beautifully on edge details. Bamboo is an eco-friendly, highly renewable source of material. Most bamboo can grow up to 120 cm in 24 hours and it takes about five years to reach full maturity while traditional hard woods can take 20–120 years to mature. Bamboo can sequester up to 70% more carbon per year than a hardwood forest. All these factors keep the carbon footprint low.


UCL have set a clear vision and ambitious targets for delivering sustainability on the Bloomsbury Campus and the project targets SKA Gold rating. 

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