New Biological Sciences Building for Queen’s University Belfast
Queen’s University Belfast is currently developing a new Biological Sciences Building which aims to be a key driver for the development and future growth of the life sciences and agri-food sections in Northern Ireland, which currently employ some 80,000 people and generates more than £5.5 billion in sales each year.
Due to open in 2019, the building will provide the facilities to help grow the university’s life sciences sector, especially in areas such as agriculture/food science, food safety disease/infection biology, diagnostics, waste management, ecosystems and the environment. The project also aims to co-locate and consolidate the School of Biological Sciences. The School is located, mainly, in the Medical Biology Centre, while its major research centre – the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) – is in the David Keir Building and in the Northern Ireland Technology Centre.
The IGFS is a world leader in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable safe and secure supply of high quality food. Supporting its effective operation, growth is of major importance to the University and is also a key asset to the wider Norther Ireland economy.
The new building is being constructed on the site of the former Science Library and essentially connects three separate ‘character areas,’ each of which is at a different level. St Ives Gardens/Sandymount, the highest part of the site, is some 4m above Chlorine Gardens which, in turn, is some 4m higher than Lennoxvale. Addressing these level changes has significantly influenced the layout and overall design – for example, a significant area of the new building is underground. The change in external ground levels, combined with central light wells, is being used to provide light to all floors and to create an airy building whose facades relate to and respect the scale of neighbouring properties.
The building will have a gross internal area of approximately 11,000m² over four floors and a basement. It is designed around a central atrium or glazed ‘street’ that acts as the social hub and heart of the School and allows daylight to penetrate deep into the building. A second more private atrium provides a less public focus for research work, whilst echoing the open, airy and light filled environment of the ‘main street.’ The undergraduate facilities and labs occupy the bottom floor of the building with postgraduate and research space located in the upper levels.
A new plaza is also being created at the main entrance, located off of Chlorine Gardens, allowing level access to the School. An enhanced pedestrian route between Chlorine Gardens and Lennoxvale will provide both a landscaped pathway for pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists as well as attractive public realm space.
Building the new school has supported 550 jobs in the construction sector, including staff from main contactors O’Hare & McGovern, and a range of other firms. The projects has cost around £38 million and once complete, will offer state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities for its 750 students and 170 staff.
In keeping with the University’s commitment to sustainability, the building has been designed to minimise its impact on the environment and to achieve the target of Building Research Establishment Environmental Method (BREEAM) Excellent.
For more information on the School of Biological Sciences, visit: