Menai Science Park
Menai Science Park, set against the backdrop of Snowdonia, is a landmark facility, commissioned by Bangor University, which provides working space for knowledge based businesses operating in the science and technology industry. Completed in 2018, it is Wales’ first business park and has been warmly received.
In November 2018, the project was highly regarded by the Construction Excellence National Awards – winning in the ‘Digital Construction’ category.
The design of the Menai Science Park (otherwise known as the M-SParc) was led by FaulknerBrowns Architects. Andrew Kane, Project Partner, said:
“M-SParc was designed to create a community of businesses. A range of tenant offices, laboratories and workshops are housed within a three-storey structure centred around a new open innovation space. This central hub provides a venue for informal working, meetings and events to form the heart of this new business community.”
Digital technologies were embraced in the design and construction stages of M-SParc to bring a range of benefits for the University client. BIM (Building Information Modelling) technologies were utilised extensively by FaulknerBrowns and Willmott Dixon Construction to optimise the operational performance of the facility, recognising that operational costs account for 90% of the whole life costs of the project. FaulknerBrowns also worked closely with the University to demystify the process and to help set some common standards that could be utilised on the project and across the wider University estate. 3D modelling techniques were also vital in delivering the complex form of the open innovation space.
On winning the Digital Construction Award Andrew said:
“These awards recognise the way in which we have utilised digital construction technology in its widest sense to bring real tangible benefits to our University client.”
A white ‘ribbon’ form borders the open innovation space. Extending out of the landscape it bends to frame the open innovation space, before arcing back down into the landscape. Created using thermoformed Corian panelling, a material more commonly used in laboratory benching, this material offered the right combination of plasticity and durability to create the fluid ribbon form in rain screen panels. Use of an industrial material in this way gives the building its distinctive identity.
“Bangor University’s brief for Menai Science Park was to create a landmark facility with a strong visual expression which would offer a distinctive hub for Wales’ first science park. The expressive ‘ribbon’ form surrounding the open innovation space, and the large glazed window façade directed towards the dramatic backdrop of Snowdonia, give M-SParc, and the businesses within it, an exciting new home.”
Flexibility has been embedded through a ‘universal science building’ strategy. A central courtyard is surrounded by a ring of laboratories and workshops set out on a wider structural grid with external risers facilitating the installation of new services. A range of office workspace is distributed around the external perimeter, where large glazed panels provide generous quantities of natural light, ventilation and views to the mountain scenery beyond.
Looking to the future, more phases of the science park will focus on sustainability, and will occupy perimeter plots to the north and south, preserving a wide central zone of natural landscaping around the park.
“So far the response to the Menai Science Park has been very strong with tenancy levels exceeding business plan targets. We’re very pleased with the results and hope that the architectural solution, and our use of digital technologies, has added value for the University and created an effective and distinctive home for new businesses.”