How the Pirbright Institute Flipped Containment Lab Design Inside Out

(February 5, 2015) - The Pirbright Institute's radical approach to biocontainment is showcased in "Breaking Out of the Box," a featured article in Building Design+Construction's January 2015 issue.

The bunker-like, box-in-box approach has been the standard template for containment design for decades—it just works. But is it truly the most efficient and effective way to conduct research? Does it offer a workplace that inspires its researchers and scientists to do better work? Does it foster the level of collaboration that today's leading research institutions are pushing for? Does it help attract and retain the most talented researchers?

Designed by HDR, the Pirbright Institute's BBSRC National Virology Centre Plowright Building flips the standard containment layout inside out, placing labs around the perimeter of the building and putting people in the center.Transparency and daylight—along with lively design details like a helical staircase off the atrium and splashes of color throughout the interior—combine to create a sense of informality and well-being in a facility where potentially life-threatening research work is being conducted.