Developing IBERS at Aberystwyth University

 Aberystwyth Uni Ibers Development

A £25 million project to construct two brand new buildings for Aberystwyth University is complete.

The new buildings were built for the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) department, which are located on the University’s Penglais and Gogerddan campuses. Each building acts as a central hub for IBERS by integrating existing facilities at each campus.

The project was completed in early 2012 and both buildings are now occupied by staff and students at the University.

Funding for the project was provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). As part of the financial requirements of the project both buildings were built to achieve BREEAM standards of ‘Excellent’.

Willmott Dixon was the main contractor for the project, whilst Pascall+Watson architects were the architects and Sean Kenny was the project manager.

IBERS is an award-winning and internationally recognised research and teaching centre. Prior to the completion of the project IBERS was located across three campuses in a collection of buildings without a central connection.

Aberystwyth University Senior Project Manager, Sean Kenny, said:

“Aberystwyth University wanted to construct a building at both campus’ that would link together all of the existing IBERS buildings.

“Both buildings were designed to strengthen IBERS by encouraging a community feeling within each campus. This was something that was missing prior to construction, but now that work is complete and the buildings are being used I’m very confident that we have achieved this integration.

 Aberystwyth Uni Ibers Development

“Academics now connect in a way that they didn’t before and it creates a more stimulating environment for everyone involved with this area of the University.”

The project began in 2009 with a lengthy process of enabling works. Construction on both developments then followed in 2010, taking a total of 60 weeks to complete. Both buildings are clad in insulated cedar board and comprise a ground and first floor. In addition, the buildings include a number of energy saving features such as intelligent lighting systems, grey water harvesting and natural ventilation.

The building at Penglais measures approximately 1800m² and comprises office space, seminar rooms, teaching laboratories and a cafe located within the centre of the development. A noticeable feature of the new building is the fully glazed office spaces, which were designed to encourage natural light into the building. The development also includes a large communal and social area to encourage interaction between teachers, researchers and students.

To complete the integration of the new building with existing facilities, single-storey corridor links were constructed to connect all of the different areas of the site together. The links allow academics to pass from one area of the development to another without having to exit the building.

Sean Kenny said:

“The building at Penglais looks fantastic and the internal glazing within the development creates a very light and airy interior. This creates a more sociable environment, which is what we wanted to achieve along with the corridors which help to bring everything together.”

 Aberystwyth Uni Ibers Development

In order for the corridor links to be incorporated, a number of alterations were made to the existing buildings in order to redirect services. This phase of the project took a year to complete and ran concurrently with the redirection of services at Gogerddan.

The new building at Gogerddan was built between three existing IBERS facilities and includes a collection of state-of-the-art glasshouses located towards the rear of the building. The glasshouses are an important inclusion in the development and will be a BBSRC national facility – The National Plant Phenomics Centre for the study of Phenomics – a biological science that measures the physical and biological traits of organisms.

The glasshouses will enable researchers to control and monitor plant growth using a variety of different artificial scenarios. The plants will then be placed onto a scanning system for further study, whilst the Phenomics facility will interact with external laboratories to identify and characterise genes.

The Gogerddan development also includes an external grassed area – complete with benches, plants and hedgerows – to provide a retreat for academic reflection. Additional planting also took place around the development.

Sean Kenny said:

“My role on this project was to ensure that WIllmott Dixon and Pascall+Watson architects were fully aware of what Aberystwyth University wanted to achieve and with the project complete it’s clear to see the new buildings do exactly what we set out to do.

“As with any project there were a number of challenges to overcome, however Willmott Dixon took them in their stride and along with a great design team they dealt with any issues very swiftly to ensure that this project was a success.

“As the development at Penglais was the first to be completed it was the first to be occupied and the feedback has been very positive. Academics have now started to occupy the laboratories at Gogerddan and we’re getting great feedback about this development too.

“It is great to see these buildings being used as we intended.”

Willmott Dixon

Founded in 1852, Willmott Dixon is one of the UK’s largest privately owned contractors, providing services for capital works projects and regeneration schemes throughout the country. Willmott Dixon works with a variety of clients including local authorities, private sector clients and the UK government for projects within the education, commercial, retail and social housing sectors. The company is also actively involved in estate renewal projects working as an equity partner for both private and public sector investors.

As a fifth generation company Willmott Dixon is extremely proud of its traditional family values and sites this as a main area of importance for its continued growth. The company has also achieved numerous awards – for two years running Willmott Dixon were named amongst the top ten companies to work for by the Sunday Times.

Pascall+Watson architects

With over 50 years of experience in the industry, Pascall+Watson architects boast a very enviable portfolio of projects. The company has provided architectural services for university buildings, museums, offices, airports and residential developments across the globe and past projects include Birmingham Airport International Pier, St Pancras International Station, Cyprus University and the redevelopment of Pulkovo Airport in Russia.

Pascall+Watson architects believe in designing high quality buildings that combine elegance with efficiency and for this reason the practice receives a great deal of repeat business. Pascall+Watson architects have also won a number of awards, including the CMG Building & Design Awards Public Building of the Year award in 2010 and the Wandsworth Council Green Business Award 2009.


Welsh firm LOCK-TECH SYSTEMS – one of only 13 UK SALTO Certificated partners – was selected for the specification, supply and installation of the access control system on the Aberystwyth University project.

LOCK-TECH’s installation of the SALTO access control system to security strategic doors has further reinforced SALTO’s suitability as the ultimate security solution for integrated systems in the education and health sectors, where it maintains an enviable lead.

LOCK-TECH’s significant experience in integrating SALTO as a one-card campus system – together with their excellent after sales service – will no doubt see the University profit from this solution as they roll it out on other doors.

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