The University of Manchester is looking at the functionality of graphene research bases in the North East to feed into designs for the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, after appointing Rafael Vinoly Architects to design the building.
Working alongside Rafael Vinoly, the GEIC team includes structural engineer Ramboll, building services engineer CH2M Hill, and cost manager EC Harris.
The centre is planned for the site of the Faraday building at the university's north campus and will focus on the commercialisation and practical application of graphene. Activity will complement research taking place at the National Graphene Institute in Booth Street East, which is due to open in March.
The development of the GEIC is funded by £15m from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, £5m from the Technology Strategy Board, and £30m from Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company.
According to the university the concept and design of the GEIC is at an early stage, and there was no comment as to when a planning application would be submitted. Construction work is due to complete in 2017.
As part of research into how the facility will work, senior university staff visited the Centre for Process Innovation and the Applied Graphene Materials based in Wilton Centre in Teesside, and graphene nanomaterials supplier Thomas Swan's facility in Consett, both in the North East. They also looked at activity at CPI's NETPark facility in County Durham, which is a dedicated centre for printable electronic materials and devices including devices containing graphene.
The visits focused on the functionality of the test labs, clean-rooms and safety requirements used in manufacturing, as well as how the businesses develop a culture of collaboration.
Rafael Vinoly Architects designed the 80-acre development of the Manchester City youth and first team academy at Openshaw West. Other famous significant projects include the 680,000 sq ft 20 Fenchurch Street, known as the Walkie-Talkie, in London.