A lab of two halves … Warwick’s bold bid to keep those nasty bugs at bay

IBRB Warwick_HawkinsBrown_©Jack Hobhouse (2)

Designed by Hawkins\Brown, Warwick university’s new £54.3m interdisciplinary biomedical research facility features contrasting facades of dark bronze and white concrete that reflect the two different aspects of what is happening inside

IBRB Warwick_HawkinsBrown_©Jack Hobhouse (2)

Source: Jack Hobhouse

The left-hand side of the building is the wider wet-labs section with a concrete frame and facade; to the right is the narrower, timber-framed write-up section with bronze facade

The pandemic has changed our notion of a superhero from a crime-busting catsuit-clad hulk to an academic in a lab coat armed with a microscope. Infectious disease research is the new rock and roll, because covid-19 has made us all too aware that micro-organisms have the potential to wreak far more havoc than criminals.

There are an untold number of viruses in the wild that could jump from animals to humans and mutate into killer diseases. Our primary line of defence against lethal bacteria – antibiotics – is being weakened by their routine use for fattening cattle, to name one of many abuses.

The life sciences sector was already booming before the pandemic; covid-19 has turbo-charged it. The need for high-quality research facilities to attract top scientists and allow them to do their best work has never been more critical.

Happily for the University of Warwick, it had just procured a new biomedical research building before the pandemic struck. The Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBBR) brings the previously separate schools of life sciences and medicine together into a new, collaborative work environment with the ambition that increased interaction will spark innovation.

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