Fairhursts to design Materials Innovation Factory

Architecture practice Fairhursts Design Group has won the contract to design the new £18m Materials Innovation Factory, a collaboration between Unilever and Liverpool University.

The 85,000 sq ft facility will be constructed using funds from the £33m grant awarded in October 2012 to Unilever and the university from the Government's Research Partnership Investment Fund.

The Materials Innovation Factory in Grove Street will be occupied by 140 university researchers and up to 100 researchers from industry partners. The MIF will produce new materials for sectors such as energy, pharmaceuticals, food and drink and paints.

The development, due to open in 2015, will include the partial demolition and redevelopment of Liverpool University's Donnan and Robinson Laboratories Building.

The university said the MIF will "create shared central analytical facilities, a new high-throughput formulation laboratory, and maximise usage and leverage for the university's pre-existing, leading capabilities in molecular biosciences, as well as integrating these with existing research facilities within the Donnan Building. Flexible, specialist workspaces will also permit researchers from other industrial and academic collaborators to use the open-access equipment at the university via a 'research hotel' concept."

It is likely that limited refurbishment of retained buildings will also be required as part of the project. Areas for refurbishment could include research labs, office accommodation as well as circulation, plant and service spaces.

WYG was appointed on the mechanical and electrical engineering contract in the project.

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