Rosalind Franklin Laboratory
Based in Leamington Spa, the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory has been described as a ‘COVID-19 megalab’ and ‘one of the largest and most innovative diagnostic facilities’ in the UK. This facility was converted from an existing 225,000 sq ft structure, and as it scales up to capacity it is set to not only process hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests a day but also create up to 1,500 new jobs. 60% of these new jobs are to be sourced from within a 30-mile radius, meaning the laboratory should offer various economic benefits to local communities.
Rosalind Franklin Laboratory
The construction of the facility required market-leading project management skills. Mace, the global construction company, were appointed to lead of project delivery in partnership with Balfour Beatty, design consultants WSP and HOK and technical consultants Hoare Lea and GMP.
It was clear that for this multidisciplinary team to work together successfully there would need to be an open and collaborative framework for project delivery. This was enabled by technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and a Project Delivery Management System (PDSM). Critical programme requirements meant the initial design stages needed to be accelerated. Fortunately, this was achieved by early engagement of the supply chain.
It was critical that the project was completed quickly without compromising on quality. For this to be possible, Balfour Beatty needed to engage with top-tier service providers and for passive fire protection, they opted for CLM Fireproofing. We were the ideal choice not only because of the quality of our service but for the ability to mobilise our team of specialists exceptionally quickly.
This was an urgent, fast-based and high profile construction project. Therefore, it required the best that the industry had to offer for works to be completed on time and in full compliance with regulations and best practice standards. We were tasked with meeting these requirements while providing a full suite of passive fire protection works including:
- Fire barrier installation
- Structural steel fire protection (using intumescent paint and boarded encasements)
- Fire stopping and penetration sealing
Fortunately, CLM Fireproofing prides itself on its agility, project management skills and commitment to compliance. We decided to work with a modular approach, so the laboratory’s test processing capacity could increase across the varying phases of the construction project. This project was a 24/7 episode, and our dedicated team worked around the clock to ensure that the project was delivered on time and to the highest possible standard.
The main internal area in the laboratory is centred around a series of identical 75m laboratory lines to be used for processing COVID-19 test samples. These are arranged in air-locked, pre-fabricated, CL2 enhanced containment modules that are designed for sample preparation, extraction and testing. These modules are then connected to corridors used for waste management and cleaning.
A fire compartment wall separates the laboratory lines from the rest of the internal area, which was used to create workspaces (in accordance with social distance and PPE guidelines) as well as a dedicated ‘welfare zone’. This zone consists of a café, food and beverage concessions, and well-lit, calming spaces for either socialising, collaborative working or meetings. The remaining meeting rooms and open-plan office space are contained with a separate administrative area.
The final key element of the design was a storage zone, situated to the north of the laboratory lines. This made innovative use of external loading bays included in the original warehouse design for samples to be checked in and scanned before being distributed on the lab lines.
CLM Fireproofing is passionate about providing compliant, high-quality fire protection to the health sector. We have worked on many healthcare projects, including the NHS buildings. We helped to safeguard the work being conducted in the Rosalind Franklin Lab so that research, development and testing can continue uninterrupted. We take pride in having worked with a multidisciplinary team that has contributed to the UK’s resilience to COVID-19 and any future threats to national health.